Editorial: Issue 110 – Mental Health and Intellectual Disability – Spring 2018

Guest Editor Dr. Evan Yacoub, Consultant Psychiatrist, Brothers of Charity Services, Galway.


I am delighted to bring you a special mental health and intellectual disability (MHID) edition of Frontline Ireland magazine. Among other articles of interest in this issue, we have 5 articles of particular note dealing directly with this theme.


The development of mental health teams for adults with learning disability has been painfully slow. The provision has been piecemeal, with a plethora of providers and a postcode lottery when it comes to access. Teams are even thinner on the ground when it comes to children. There are, however, finally some positive developments as you will see in these articles.


The first article, by the two key people involved in the national HSE division, Dr. Fionnuala Kelly and Ciara Latimer, sets out the current process of establishing mental health intellectual disability teams in Ireland.


Following this, Cathal Keaney and Jacinta Flynn respectively highlight the importance of multi-disciplinary working by focusing in on the occupational therapy and social work roles in MHID teams.


The next article, from the pen of Professor Michael Fitzgerald, makes an interesting argument about where mental health ends and begins, by focusing on neurodevelopmental disorders. This poses the important question of whether diagnoses such as autism or ADHD in the absence of major mental illness are included or excluded in the ‘core business’ of MHID teams.


We have a UK perspective on developing MHID teams from Dr. Ken Courtenay. Given how long it has taken since ‘A Vision for Change’, for the process to get under way, it is important to incorporate international perspectives to learn lessons in relation to what works well and what works less well. Ultimately, the service user is at the centre of the process, and it is vital that the best possible service is delivered to our service users.


Among other absorbing contributions to this issue, Gillian Martin of Callan Institute details a recent audit of Irish Behaviour Practitioners, while regular contributor Mei-Lin yap reports on the European Down Syndrome Swimming Championships of 2017. Australian stand-up comic, writer and independent film producer gough gives us an insight into the highs and lows of life for an artist working with a disability. Owen Doody brings us his highlights from the NNIDI Conference, 2017.


And finally, Julien Benoit’s story – his mum Siobhán brings an intriguing view of life with a boy with Down Syndrome growing up in France.