Young people with intellectual disabilities and mental health needs

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Purpose of reviewThis review focuses on the risk factors for increased mental health problems, and the types of psychopathology and their therapeutic management, in young people with intellectual disabilities.Recent findingsRecent studies indicate that this population presents significantly more emotional and behavioural problems than their peers without intellectual disabilities. These problems are not adequately detected and treated by mental health professionals; the children's families are overburdened, psychosocially and economically disadvantaged and in need of specialist support and counselling.SummaryThe mental health needs of children and adolescents with intellectual disabilities are multiple, complex, persistent and costly, and for various reasons they are not adequately met. Prevention of mental health problems or early recognition through better screening followed by appropriate treatment are essential, in order to ensure better psychosocial adaptation of young people with intellectual disabilities. Inequalities in the provision of services must be addressed, and families helped through support and counselling, along with psychotherapeutic and psychopharmacological interventions for the children, as appropriate.

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