People with learning disabilities who also have mental health problems: practice issues and directions for learning disability nursing

Authors

  • Tony Gilbert RNMH BA(Hons) MScGCEA,

    1. Head of Department, Community and Primary Health Care, Homerton School of Health Studies, Homerton
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  • Margaret Todd RNMH RMN RGNDipN, BA(Hons) MBA,

    1. Senior Lecturer, Homerton School of Health Studies, Fulbourn/Ida Darwin Education Centre, Fulbourn, Cambridge
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  • Neil Jackson RNMH BEd MA APN Cert. RNT

    1. Lecturer, School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Southampton, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton, England
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Tony Gilbert Homerton School of Health Studies, Fulbourn/Ida Darwin Education Centre, Fulbourn, Cambridge, England.

Abstract

The plight of people with learning disabilities who have mental health problems has become an issue of contemporary importance in the provision of health services to this section of the population. This paper will argue that learning disability nursing has a central role to play in the promotion of mental health for this client group ( Department of Health 1995a). However, learning disability nursing presently operates without a clear model of mental health. Therefore, before this potential can be realized there is a need to establish the common ground between the discourses of learning disability nursing and those of psychiatric nursing which might be related to this client group. This paper begins by identifying the background issues relating to the problems of meeting the mental health needs of people with learning disabilities. It then proposes that an applied behavioural approach has the potential to provide a coherent theory that can link the discourses of normalization, developmental psychiatry and mental health nursing, whilst also establishing the applied behavioural approach as a powerful technology upon which meaningful interventions can be designed.

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