IAPT LDHappiness is positivity. It’s wearing a smile and walking with a bounce, it’s a good frame of mind, and it’s feeling a certain satisfaction and fulfilment from life. Scientifically, happiness is linked to 7 neurochemicals in particular: endocannabinoids, dopamine, oxytocin, endorphin, GABA, serotonin and adrenaline which enhance our ability to be positive.

Happy living is said to be closely linked to a healthy life. 

Although no research provides definitive proof, a number of studies have at least shown influencers which have relationships with happiness. For example, a study at Harvard University found that happy and optimistic people are half as likely to have heart disease, a heart attack, or suffer from a stroke – compelling findings to get you on the pursuit of happiness! However, according to IAPT, the reality is that at least 25% of people will experience a mental health problem such as depression or anxiety. Most of us will in fact be able to relate to many of the signs:

- being stuck in a low mood 
- having low self esteem  
- being tearful 
- feeling irritable around others  
- feeling anxious and distracted by worry 
- a change in appetite  
- bad and irregular sleeping patterns.

Mental health support for people with learning disabilities

Charities such as the Mental Health Foundation are bringing to our attention to the overlooked need of mental health support for people with learning difficulties. According to research a staggering 40% of people with learning difficulties suffer from problems with mental health which can emanate from feelings of isolation, frustration, and low confidence. Therefore a coherent reactive response needs to be achieved to respond to the huge number of patients.

In the case of somebody with learning difficulties, the current requirement of filling out masses of paperwork is not practical and when services aren’t available locally, family can feel cut off from supporting important healthcare decisions. Typically, those with learning difficulties also find it hard to express their feelings so when issues come to light they need to be addressed rather than left to deteriorate. Therefore the unique needs of the individual, emotionally and practically, need to be understood and so training about the mental health needs of people with a learning difficulty should come as a statutory requirement to healthcare professionals.

The IAPT programme’s targets for April 2015 are geared up to improve psychological/talking therapies for all patients, to understand the needs of different people, whilst aiming to save the NHS and public sector millions. To support these targets, training materials developed specifically for the treatment of people with intellectual difficulties have evolved. Training matierials such as Guided Self-help for People with Intellectual Disabilities and Anxiety and Depression and I Can Feel Good can help in the preparation for sessions to make treatment more beneficial to the patient and more effective to the practise by improving efficiency. It is important for health professionals to always embrace new techniques and approaches so that their service is always of the highest standard. Mental health is finally becoming a priority alongside physical health and an importance has been put on pursuing happiness to improve a patient’s quality of life. 

What are your thoughts/experience with talking therapies for people with intellectual disabilities? We'd love to know, please leave a comment below... 


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