Mental Health & LDs
In general, the literature that discusses both mental health and learning disabilities (LDs) finds that those with LDs are at increased risk for mental health problems.
According to Children’s Mental Health Ontario, 1 in 5 children and youth in Ontario has a mental health problem. This means that almost 20% of students in a typical classroom will be dealing with a mental health problem – making it difficult for them to learn, or regulate their behaviour appropriately (2017).
Child and youth mental health problems can be classified into two broad categories:
internalizing problems – which include symptoms like withdrawal, anxiety, fearfulness, and depressed moods.
externalizing problems – which are characterized by such behaviours as aggression, defiance, rule-breaking, and destructive behaviour
Learning Disabilities and Mental Health
Learning Disabilities and Mental Health (LDMH) is a complex subject. A child that is presenting certain behavioural issues may actually be struggling because of their LDs, which could be related to executive functioning or slow processing speeds. It is important to remember that you, as a parent, will see some outward signs from your child that may appear to be one thing, but that this may only be the tip of the iceberg, and your child may be dealing with other issues that you are unaware of (Integra Program Staff, 2016). Fortunately, the stigma that has traditionally been associated with mental health is being reduced, and there are many resources available to help.
The Integra Program at the Child Development Institute has created a handbook to help explain the relationship between mental health and LDs. Click here to access the LD@home article LDMH: A Handbook on Learning Disabilities and Mental Health.
For more information about mental health and Ontario resources that can help, click here to access the LD@school article Learning Disabilities and Mental Health.
Children’s Mental Health Ontario. (2017). Key Facts & Data Points. Retrieved from http://cmho.org/education-resources/facts-figures
Integra Program Staff. (2016). LDMH: A Handbook on Learning Disabilities and Mental Health. Retrieved from http://childdevelop.ca/sites/default/files/files/Sept%2022%20Integra%20LDMH%20Handbook%202016.pdf