What Can the Experiences of People With an Intellectual Disability Tell Us About the Desirable Attributes of a Mental Health Professional? – 2018

Introduction: Mental health professionals have reported that they have limited knowledge, skills, and confidence in the area of intellectual disability mental health. This article aims to learn from the experiences of people with intellectual disability about the attributes that may assist mainstream mental health professionals to provide them with a quality mental health service.

Methods: Six people with intellectual disability participated in an interview or focus group. Thematic analysis was undertaken applying the Intellectual Disability Mental Health Core Competencies Framework.

Results: The findings supported previous research for the need for mental health professionals to be adaptable, able to communicate, and work with a person’s support network. The study reinforced the need for professionals to undertake professional development in the area but also suggested that people with intellectual disability be included as educators and as peer workers. New attributes were identified, including the need for mental health professionals to be able to build rapport and trust through demonstrating their experience and respect for working with people with intellectual disability, and their ability to understand trauma and how it may influence mental health needs.

Conclusions: The attributes identified in the study could be used to inform an intellectual disability mental health workforce development framework.

Janelle Weise, Karen R Fisher, Erin Whittle & Julian N Trollor
Journal of Mental Health Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 17 May 2018