Understand the importance of early detection of mental health conditions, dementia and learning disabilities

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

Early detection of a mental health condition, dementia or learning disability can have several benefits:

  • Individuals can get the right information and support – this could include support groups, counselling and financial help.
  • Individuals can identify and utilise treatments – this can include medication, counselling or CBT.
  • Individuals can plan for the future – advance care planning means an individual can record their wishes whilst they are most able including how they want to be cared for and appointing powers of attorney.
  • There is no more uncertainty – living with symptoms such as memory loss or hallucinations can be upsetting if the cause is unknown but having an accurate diagnosis can help an individual to understand why they are happening and how to move forward.

When an individual is diagnosed with a mental health condition, dementia or learning disability, it is important that their care and support is assessed using a person-centred approach and any necessary adjustments made.

For example, an individual that is diagnosed with depression may need their care staff to prompt and encourage them to take their medication and maintain a positive attitude around them to prevent them becoming low.

An individual diagnosed with dementia may require information about advance care planning and have their wishes for the future recorded whilst they still have the mental capacity to make their own decisions so that their voice is available for any future decisions that may need to be made about them.

An individual diagnosed with a learning disability may find it useful to learn Makaton to help with communication, which means that their care staff would also need to learn it, too.

It is important to understand that the care requirements of individuals with mental health conditions, dementia and learning disabilities will change over time. Psychosis, depression and anxiety may be manageable with medication or therapy for periods of time but an event may trigger a relapse, which can result in changes to an individual’s behaviour and their needs. An individual with a learning disability may develop more and more independent living skills and require less support as they get older. As there is currently no cure, it is inevitable that individuals with dementia will become less independent over time and require more support.