Mental health needs of parents with intellectual disabilities

Author: O'Keeffe, N., & O'Hara, J.
Year: 2008
Reference Type: Journal Article
Journal/Book Title: Current Opinion in Psychiatry
Volume: 21
Issue: 5
Pages: 463-468
Abstract: Purpose of review: Parents with intellectual disabilities are more susceptible to psychological distress, isolation and abuse, but little is known about their mental health. A significant proportion risk losing custody of their children and current services are inadequate to meet their needs. It is timely to review this in the light of current reforms and good practice guidance. Recent findings: Parents with intellectual disabilities have a right to specialist support to enable them to enjoy a normal family life; however, this is not always the case in practice. Access to appropriate services can be challenging owing to a combination of factors including a lack of expertise, funding and different eligibility criteria. Recent studies indicate these parents have an increased risk of psychopathology and mental health problems which impact on their ability to parent. Recent guidelines, however, have failed to address this area of need and services continue to be crisis driven., Summary: This review highlights the high prevalence of mental health needs in parents with intellectual disabilities. A 'continuum of prevention' is a key principle of good practice, demonstrating the need for collaborative multi-agency working. This must include mental health services if the social inclusion and human rights agenda of families with an intellectually disabled parent are to be realized.

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