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Detecting and treating depression in people with mild intellectual disability: the views of key stakeholders



Accessible summary

  • • Some people with intellectual disability feel depressed and it is important that we find out about this early and that we try to help them.
  • • We asked some people with intellectual disability, some family and some staff about what depression is like and what sort of things led to depression in people with mild intellectual disability.
  • • The people we talked to told us that there are lots of things that might show that a person is depressed. For example, they may not want to do things, they may want to be by themselves, they may have tantrums or even hurt themselves.
  • • They also said there were lots of things that could help, like having good friends and having people to help them. Most people said it would be good if staff knew more about depression and could teach people how to cope with feeling sad.


There is a pressing need for the development of programs for the early identification and treatment of depression in individuals with mild intellectual disability. The aim of this study was to ascertain the perspective of 64 key stakeholders (people with intellectual disability, healthcare professionals, family/caregivers & support workers) regarding the risk factors and characteristics of depression, the support and service needs of individuals with intellectual disability/depression and those who care for them. Findings enhance our understanding of depression and its risk factors in people with mild intellectual disability and endorse the need for the development of screening and intervention programs suitable for delivery by staff in agencies providing services to people with mild intellectual disability.