Department of Developmental Disability Neuropsychiatry (3DN)

A historical perspective of intellectual disability mental health services in NSW.

Project Members
Project Main Description

Historically, public services for people with an intellectual disability (ID) were delivered through institutional models of care. However, from the 1960s, in response to the disability rights movement, which advocated for deinstitutionalisation and normalisation for people with a disability the landscape of service provision started to evolve. While the transition from institutional to community based care was intended to have a positive impact on the quality of life for people with disabilities there have been unforseen repercussions on the quality and continuity of care available to people with a dual diagnosis of intellectual disability and mental disorder.

The evolution of mental health services for people with an intellectual disability in New South Wales is yet to be well documented. In particular, the experience of health and disability professionals, and intellectual disability advocates at the front line of service delivery has not been adequately explored to determine the lessons that can be learnt in delivering accessible mental health services for this important minority group.

As such, using a series of semi-structured interviews with key health and disability professionals and intellectual disability advocates this project will explore the following questions:

  1. What is the historical experience of health and disability professionals, and intellectual disability advocates clinicians in delivery of, and access to, mental health services for people with intellectual disability in NSW?
  2. What can be learnt from this historical perspective to enhance current services for people with an intellectual disability?
  3. What have been the strengths and weaknesses of intellectual disability mental health services in NSW?
  4. What have been the facilitators and barriers to enhancing the quality of mental health services available to people with an intellectual disability?
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