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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

CR175. Enabling people with mild intellectual disability and mental health problems to access healthcare services

Price: £0.00

Approved: Sep 2012

Published: Nov 2012

Status: current

Number of pages: 26

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Easy-read summary version of CR175

Principles of normalisation and Government policy in the UK state that wherever possible, people with learning disabilities should use mainstream mental health services. However, often these lack the resources, skills and expertise to manage this group of patients.


The focus of the present guidance addresses mainly the mental health needs of adults with mild intellectual disability. These service users form the majority of the population of people with intellectual disability and are more likely to present with identifiable mental disorders, but nevertheless may have difficulty accessing services such as in-patient wards and home treatment teams, particularly at times of crisis. Often, adult mental health professionals maintain that they lack the specialist skills needed in order to treat these individuals. However, community intellectual disability services have a crucial role with this group in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health ill health, and, in particular, supporting and facilitating access to mainstream mental health services where extra support is required.


The intended target audience is front-line professionals (e.g. psychiatrists, nurses, psychologists), who refer, assess and manage adults with intellectual disability in the community. It provides a framework within which to facilitate collaboration between adult mental health and community intellectual disability services in order to meet the mental health needs of people with intellectual disability. It is also relevant to those individuals

who may have significant psychosocial difficulties as a result of comorbid neuropsychiatric problems such as autism spectrum disorder.


This report has been jointly revised by the Faculty of Psychiatry of Intellectual Disability and the General and Community Psychiatry Faculty, Royal College of Psychiatrists, and replaces Council Report CR115, of the same title (Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2003).



  • Working Group
  • Executive summary and recommendations
  • Introduction
  • Policy context
  • Values and principles
  • Mental health services for people with intellectual disability
  • Suggested care pathway
  • Service interface
  • Information systems
  • Clinical competencies and training
  • Conclusions
  • References


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