S75: Making a space for people with intellectual disabilities and mental health issues in our communities, moving forward not backwards.

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By September 12, 2019 No Comments

Authors: Julia Hennessy, Frances Hughes

Year: 2019

Event: 2019 TheMHS Conference

Subject: Making a space for people with intellectual disabilities and mental health issues in our communities, moving forward not backwards.

Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers



Julia Hennessy, RN, PhD.
Julia has held a number of senior positions within health and education and has undertaken a number of consultant roles in her home country of New Zealand and internationally. She, along with her colleague Frances have undertaken research in the areas of mental health and intellectual disabilities. Julia was the Executive Director of Teaching and Learning with a Wellington-based tertiary education institute, is currently President of the Auckland Institute of Studies, a Trustee for an industry training organiser, national moderator for the funeral and embalming industry and a Director of a private tertiary training institute.

Frances Hughes, RN, DNurs, ONZM
Frances has worked for non-government organisations (NGOs) in the areas of disability and service evaluation and mental health. She held the position as Executive Officer in a national disability group and established an NGO that provided community residential support to individuals with complex mental illness. Currently, she serves as Executive Director of Cutting Edge Oceania, where she works for northern hemisphere organisations representing their interests in Australia and New Zealand. For two years prior, she held the position of Chief Executive Officer of the International Council of Nursing in Geneva, Switzerland. Before that, Frances has worked for the World Health Organization as the Facilitator for the Pacific Island Mental Health Network, where she worked with 16 governments to help develop policies to improve mental health.

There is a growing awareness for the needs of consumers with high and complex mental health and intellectual disabilities, however, this awareness has not gone far enough. Being a group, small in numbers, many are accessing support through mental health secure facilities.

It is important that this group are supported by the philosophy of disability and normalisation. Being part of developing a healthy community requires acknowledgement of all those that could be a part of that development. Across the board, those people with ID/MH issues are for the most part forgotten and invisible, and their overall needs frequently are unmet. Their general health needs including dental, physical and social needs are not well understood and therefore are often failed to be diagnosed, thereby missing out on having even their basic needs treated.

This presentation is an attempt to raise the awareness for this group and to provide an avenue for their stories to be told as well as heightening the awareness of health professionals, funders and planners of their unmet needs.

Hennessy and Hughes (2018) stated that “given the health inequalities experienced by individuals with intellectual disabilities, a key consideration for the profession should be how these individuals obtain access to appropriate mainstream health services” p5.

Learning Objectives
Learning Objective 1: Understand the invisibility of people with intellectual disabilities and mental health within our communities.
Learning Objective 2: Reflect on what would our communities look like if there was normalisation for ID/MH consumers

Hughes, F and Hennessy, J (2018) Assisting Individuals With Intellectual Disabilities: Do We, as Nurses, Still Have a Role? Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services. 2018;56(10):2-5 https://doi.org/10.3928/02793695-20180920-01

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