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Predictors of mental ill-health and its determinants in mothers caring for a son or daughter with intellectual disabilities at different stages of the caregiving trajectory including post caregiving

Research Overview

There is some evidence suggesting that mothers may be more likely than other carers to experience depression and anxiety. However, there is a lack of research in this area. It is therefore important to investigate how often mental health problems are experienced by mothers caring for a child, adult or older adult with intellectual disabilities or after a son or daughter with intellectual disabilities has died, and additionally, to compare this with the experience of similar women who do not have this type of caring role. It is also important to identify possible reasons for mental ill-health (e.g. living circumstances, child’s health), so these can be addresse.


Benefit

To identify what guidance services are required to ensure appropriate support mechanisms are put in place at the time when it is most needed.


More about the project

Increasingly, parents in the UK are continuing to care for their son or daughter with intellectual disabilities over a prolonged period of time. Improvements in medical technology, health care and nutrition, and deinstitutionalisation have resulted in more people with intellectual disabilities living in the community and enjoying longer lives. In 1970, there were about 8,500 patients in Scotland with intellectual disabilities living in long-stay institutions (Scottish Consortium for Learning Disability, 2014). However, since the 1990s, there has been a growing policy focus on care in the community.

There are approximately 26,000 people with intellectual disabilities (5,000 children and 21,000 adults) residing in Scotland (Scotland Census, 2011). Of these 4,000 children (80%) and an estimated 7,000 adults (35%) live with a parent carer (Scotland Census, 2011). While caring for a son or daughter can be an extremely positive and rewarding experience, it can also have a negative impact on the mental health of parent carers at different points in time.

Scotland’s Census 2011 is unique among the UK’s 2011 Censuses in including a question on ‘intellectual disability’ (also known as ‘learning disability’), and specifically differentiating this from learning difficulties such as dyslexia and dyscalculia. It hence provides a unique resource to identify the mental health of mothers caring for a son or daughter with intellectual disabilities. With this information, important and overdue questions on mental health can be addressed which will subsequently identify what guidance services are required to ensure appropriate support mechanisms are put in place at the time when it is most needed.


Government departments

Scottish Government


Date approved 

November 2016


Lead researcher

Dr Deborah Kinnear et al, University of Glasgow


Page last updated: 06/03/2017