Ageing, Disability & Home Care

New e-tool supports better mental health care for people with intellectual disability

22 July 2013

Health and disability professionals will receive additional training to provide expert care to thousands of people in NSW living with an intellectual disability and a mental illness following the launch of a ground-breaking e-learning website today launched by the Minister for Disability Services Andrew Constance and Minister for Mental Health Kevin Humphries.

Mr Constance said the website would significantly change the way professionals, carers, and eventually people with an intellectual disability themselves access information on intellectual disability and mental health.

“We know that people with an intellectual disability are at increased risk of developing a mental health issue,” Mr Constance said.

“They are a particularly vulnerable group and that is why the NSW Government is committed to taking a more integrated approach between disability and health services.”

The innovative educational tool – which is available at - is aimed at up-skilling the workforce to meet the unique mental health needs of those people with an intellectual disability. 

The website has been developed by the Department of Developmental Disability Neuropsychiatry (3DN) at UNSW Medicine and funded by the NSW Government.

Mr Humphries said this new approach would provide a better future for people in NSW with an intellectual disability and mental illness.

“This website is the first of its kind in Australia,” Mr Humphries said.

“It is a practical and accessible approach that will enable health and disability professionals to stop people with an intellectual disability and a mental disorder from falling between the cracks of the two systems.”

Associate Professor Julian Trollor, Chair of Intellectual Disability Mental Health and head of 3DN at UNSW Medicine, said that people with an intellectual disability have the same mental health concerns as everyone else, and the e-learning promotes the best practice in their mental health care. 

“We’re very pleased to make this practical educational resource available. We are launching with seven modules that are fundamental to clinical training in this area, aiming to improve knowledge, skills and confidence for healthcare practitioners,” Professor Trollor said. 

“Thanks to the support and collaboration between health and disability services, we have been able to create a learning tool that will generate greater access to much needed education. With future funding, we also have the capacity to expand the site to meet the needs not only of healthcare professionals nationally, but also those who have an intellectual disability and their families. 

“The e-learning site’s main intention is to improve the quality of life for people with an intellectual disability. Through our holistic approach to mental health and considered planning of the site, we believe this will be achievable in the future.”

An estimated 300,000 to 400,000 Australians have an intellectual disability. 

This tool encourages inclusion of people with an intellectual disability and a person-centred approach in line with the National Disability Insurance Scheme which began its initial roll out in NSW this month.

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