Behavioural activation - adolescents with mild-moderate intellectual disability

Mental health problems such as depression cause a great deal of suffering to those experiencing them, including family and friends. Depression is currently the third leading contributor to the global burden of disease, with the World Health Organization predicting it will become the second leading contributor by 2020.

In the UK, around 1 in 7 children suffering from mental health problems are also reported to have an intellectual disability, which is characterised as limitations in intellectual and adaptive functioning. As well as being a high-risk group amongst the whole population of young people, children and adolescents with intellectual disability are 4 to 5 times more likely to have a diagnosable mental health problem compared to those without an intellectual disability.

A recent review of mental health treatment research by the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) found no high quality evidence for psychological therapies for the treatment of mental health problems in children and adolescents with intellectual disability. As a result of this finding, Professor Richard Hastings and Professor Kylie Gray of the Centre for Educational Development, Appraisal and Research, University of Warwick and Professor Katrina Williams, Head of Paediatrics, Monash University will bring together an international team of experts to adapt an existing treatment for depression of adults with intellectual disability. This treatment will be evaluated and its suitability as a treatment for adolescents with intellectual disability who have depression will be assessed.

Working collaboratively, the project will provide broad learning opportunities and assist in the design of a framework for the adaptation/development and evaluation of psychological treatments for mental health problems in young people with intellectual disability. The project also presents key opportunities for the supervision, mentoring, and skills development of research and clinical staff.

Professor Katrina Williams, Monash University

Professor Richard Hastings, University of Warwick

Co-applicants

Dr Glenn Melvin, Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychiatry, Monash University

Dr Ashley Liew, Associate Fellow, Centre for Educational Development, Appraisal and Research, University of Warwick

Professor Bruce Tonge, Emeritus Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Monash University

Samantha Flynn, Research Fellow, Centre for Educational Development, Appraisal and Research, University of Warwick

Dr Nan Hu, Research Fellow, Department of Psychiatry, Monash University

Visiting Fellow

Professor Andrew Jahoda, Professor of Learning Disabilities (Mental Health & Wellbeing), University of Glasgow