About mental health and learning disabilities

The people we provide care for experience mental health problems and/or learning disabilities. Here we provide you with some brief information about these issues to help you understand more about the people we provide care for and why the NHS invests in specialist services for our local communities.

Mental health

Mental health is just like physical health. It can be good or bad, lead to problems that last for a few weeks or ones that need to be managed over a lifetime.

Mental health is about how we think, feel and behave. One in four people in the UK have a mental health problem at some point in their lives, which can affect their daily life, relationships, work and physical health. Mental health problems can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, gender or social background.

Without care and treatment, mental health problems can have a serious effect on an individual and those around him or her. Every year more than 250,000 people are admitted to psychiatric hospitals, and over 4,000 people lose their lives to suicide.

There is no single cause of mental health problems, the reasons they develop are as complex as the individual. However, mental health problems are more common in certain groups, for example, people with poor living conditions, those from ethnic minority groups, disabled people, homeless people and offenders.

People with mental health problems need help and support to enable them to cope. There are many treatment options, including medication, counselling, psychotherapy, complementary therapies and self-help strategies.
In this section we provide information on common mental health problems.

Facts and figures


About learning disabilities

If someone has a learning disability it means that they may not learn things as quickly as other people and they may need more help and support to learn.

A learning disability is not an illness. Some people with a learning disability also experience mental health problems such as depression, but they are not the same thing.

A learning disability is nearly always present from birth, though this is sometimes not recognised until children fail to reach milestones in their development such as sitting up or beginning to talk. Although it is a permanent condition, people with a learning disability can, and do, learn and develop with the right sort of support.

Some people have severe learning disabilities and will need a lot of day-to-day support whereas people with mild or moderate learning disabilities can live with much less help from other people.

‘Learning disabilities’ is an umbrella term which describes a range of conditions including ADHD, autism, Down’s syndrome and dyslexia.

Facts and figures

Page last updated on September 25th, 2014