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New publication: Down syndrome and mental health

Down Syndrome Australia (DSA) has published a new resource to support the mental health of people with Down syndrome.

Down syndrome and Mental Health provides information and tips for people with Down syndrome and their families to help maintain good mental health.

The publication also helps people with Down syndrome and their families identify when professional support might be required.

Down syndrome and Mental Health notes that people with intellectual disability, including Down syndrome, are two to three times more likely to experience mental illness than people without disability.

“The reasons behind this are unclear but social barriers, rather than the disability itself, may mean that people with Down syndrome are more likely to experience some of the risk factors for mental illness,” said DSA chief executive Dr Ellen Skladzien.

“These risk factors include poor community inclusion, bullying, low expectations and limited access to meaningful work and social activities.”

Dr Skladzien said people with Down syndrome may also find it harder to access support because of barriers within the health system.

“It can be difficult for people with Down syndrome to find appropriate doctors or therapists, and some doctors can mistakenly attribute symptoms to Down syndrome rather than identify them as mental health issues.

“People with Down syndrome can also experience difficulty in communicating and expressing feelings, and this makes it harder to talk about issues affecting mental health.”

Many of the strategies recommended for maintaining good mental health in people with Down syndrome are the same strategies that work for the general population.

Eating well, being physically active, having good social relationships, being occupied in meaningful activities, and getting enough sleep are among the tips included in Down syndrome and Mental Health.

Download Down syndrome and Mental Health (pdf).

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