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Mental health problems in young people with learning disabilities: The perspectives & experiences of parents

Faust, Hannah; (2003) Mental health problems in young people with learning disabilities: The perspectives & experiences of parents. Doctoral thesis (D.Clin.Psy), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Adolescence can be an exciting yet also difficult time for young people. It has long been recognised that the multiple internal and external changes and stresses associated with this life stage result in some young people developing mental health problems. While young people with learning disabilities have long been overlooked, there now appears to be evidence that they are at risk of elevated rates of mental health problems, with rates of psychopathology in this group being estimated as up to seven times higher than their nondisabled peers (Emerson, 2003). Despite evidence of increased vulnerability, little is known about how such additional problems affect the lives of these young people, their parents and wider family members. The present study aimed to expand the existing, mostly epidemiological, literature by investigating the experiences of parents who have an adolescent son or daughter with learning disabilities and additional mental health problems. Eleven semi-structured interviews were conducted with a total of fourteen parents from an inner city area. Areas of exploration included: the process of initially recognising a change in the young person; parents' understanding of the mental health problem; the impact of the mental health problem on the young person, the parents and the rest of the family; how the family attempted to manage; and parents' experiences of professional help. The interviews yielded rich qualitative data, which was analysed using the principles of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Four themes were identified from the analysis: (1) The Struggle to Understand, relating to the difficulties parents had with respect to understanding and making sense of the changes in their child's behaviour and emotional state; (2) Changing Us, relating to the impact of the additional problems; (3) Managing the Best We Can, relating to parents' experiences of managing the situation; and (4) The Battle for Help, relating to parents' experiences of professional help. Confusion, loss and hardship were at the core of all themes. Cultural and religious differences mediated parents' perspectives and experiences. The results are discussed in terms of the existing literature. The methodology of this study and the research and clinical implications are also discussed.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: D.Clin.Psy
Title: Mental health problems in young people with learning disabilities: The perspectives & experiences of parents
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Social sciences; Psychology; Learning disabilities; Mental health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10099299
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