Intended for healthcare professionals


Mental health services for people with learning disabilities

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 09 September 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:583

A complete overhaul is needed with strong links to mainstream services

  1. Angela Hassiotis, senior lecturer in learning disability psychiatry (,
  2. Phil Barron, consultant psychiatrist in learning disability (,
  3. Jean O'Hara, consultant psychiatrist in learning disability
  1. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, London W1N 8AA
  2. High Wood Hospital, Brentwood, Essex CM15 9DY
  3. Department of Psychiatry, Royal London Hospital, London E2 9HN

    Mental health services in the United Kingdom are set for dramatic restructuring in the light of recent government initiatives to improve quality of care and equity of provision. National standards for promoting mental health and treating mental illness are designed to reduce the risk of future tragedies and improve the quality of life of people with mental illness.1 But little thought has been given to the well documented mental health needs of people with learning disabilities.

    In the age of institutional care the disturbed and challenging behaviour of people with learning disabilities was thought to be due to their living environment and their learning disability. Their care was greatly influenced by humanistic and philosophical ideas.2 The widespread closure of “long stay” hospitals for people with learning disabilities was accompanied by …

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