Following the launch of a resource helping people with Down syndrome make their own decisions last month, peak body Down Syndrome Australia has published a new resource supporting mental health.
The downloadable resource, Down syndrome and Mental Health provides information and tips for people with Down syndrome and their families to help promote and support good mental health, while identifying when professional support might be required.
Research has shown people with intellectual disability, including Down syndrome, are two to three times more likely to experience mental illness than people without disability, making the resource an important one.
Chief Executive of Down Syndrome Australia Dr Ellen Skladzien says there are a number of things that contribute to this statistic.
“The reasons behind this are unclear but social barriers, rather than the disability itself, may mean that people with Down syndrome are more likely to experience some of the risk factors for mental illness.”
“These risk factors include poor community inclusion, bullying, low expectations and limited access to meaningful work and social activities.
She says people with Down syndrome may also find it harder to access support because of barriers within the health system.
“It can be difficult for people with Down syndrome to find appropriate doctors or therapists, and some doctors can mistakenly attribute symptoms to Down syndrome rather than identify them as mental health issues.
“People with Down syndrome can also experience difficulty in communicating and expressing feelings, and this makes it harder to talk about issues affecting mental health.”
Strategies to promote good mental health in people with Down syndrome highlighted in the resource include eating well, getting enough sleep, staying physically active, spending time with friends and family and getting involved in meaningful activities.
You can download the Down syndrome and Mental Health pdf here.