Special needs children need special care
CHILDREN and teenagers with learning disabilities are more vulnerable to mental health problems and need specialist support according to Dr Heather Hanna, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist for the Western Trust.
For the past year Dr Hanna has provided a dedicated service for children and adolescents with learning disability. She is passionate about how this can improve outcomes for children and adolescents with learning disabilities.
She commented: “Learning disability psychiatry is a speciality within psychiatry and those of us specialising in treating children and adolescents with learning disability are an emerging and enthusiastic sub-speciality within that.”
She added: “We strongly believe that, just as mental health services specifically aimed at children and adolescents have been developed across the region (CAMHS) a similar model can be applied to learning disability services. This is embedded in the Bamford Review.”
She continued: “Children with learning disabilities find it more difficult to learn and negotiate the challenges of everyday life than children without learning disabilities.
“It is important that we promote resilience and maximise their developmental potential across the lifespan, beginning in the early years.
“Mental health difficulties are more common in young people who have a learning disability and they need access to comprehensive, multidisciplinary supports and specialist interventions. The Western Trust is working hard to develop such a service, drawing on models of best practice from around the UK.”
She made the comments as the Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust) helped bring the Annual Child and Adolescent Learning Disability Psychiatric Network (CALDPN) conference to Northern Ireland for the first time.
Over 70 clinical experts attending from across the United Kingdom – all in agreement that children with learning disability need access to specialist services.
Recent developments aiming to improve access of Scottish children and young people to mental health services will be described by one speaker, Dr Susie Gibbs, Consultant Psychiatrist, NHS Lanarkshire.
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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