Exploring recovery in people with learning disabilities
A literature review examines how mental health difficulties may differ for people with learning disabilities (PwLD) and the general population; with respect to their vulnerability to mental ill-health and the definition, presentation and treatment of mental health problems. Factors which have been found to positively impact on the mental health of PwLD are then explored. The review considers methodological limitations and gaps in our understanding, highlighting a need for further research focusing on mental health recovery for individuals with learning disabilities.\ud Section B presents a study exploring what recovery means for people with learning disabilities and mental health difficulties. Interviews were conducted with nine individuals and Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis used. A model was developed which described participants’ entry to the therapeutic service and their progression towards recovery. The model firstly describes how participants felt entering the service, their Mental Health/Therapy Experience, and explains how these experiences were validated and the recovery process enabled through the therapeutic alliance. Once enabled, the second dimension of the model is detailed, that of the Client Recovery Experience which extends across three phases of recovery. The first phase, Feeling Better describes elements perceived as integral to improved mental health. The second phase, Recovery Ongoing identifies that more input is required. Thirdly, Attainability?: Reality, Ideals and Fantasy, reveals PwLD’s perceptions of recovery and the techniques used in striving to achieve this. Salient features of recovery specific to PwLD are recognised as important to clinical practice, and results suggest there is a need to openly discuss LD identity, and address idealisations surrounding a non-LD one. This would involve setting realistic goals and managing expectations accordingly and focussing on social integration as a way of enabling ongoing recovery.