Abuse, Stress, Lack of Social Support May Be Associated with Mental Health of Women with ID

Jennifer Conder, RN
University of Otago, New Zeland

Women with intellectual disability (ID) are thought to have higher rates of mental illness than other women. Not much is known about why some women with ID are more likely to have mental illness than other women without ID.

What did you do in your research?
In our study we asked 25 women with ID (ages 21-65 years) from New Zealand to tell us about their lives, from childhood to the present day. We looked at what they told us to see if those that had experienced mental illness had different stories to tell than those that did not.

What did you find out?
The women in the study had different life experiences. We found out that the women with ID who were mentally ill (~8) were more likely to have been abused in the past and more likely to experience long-term stress. They also felt they did not receive adequate support at school and when they left school. If the women did not have enough social support when entering the workforce they were more likely to lose their jobs. Conversely, having good relationships with friends and family, a busy life, and having the ability to make choices for themselves helped women to keep mentally well. These themes highlight a sense of responsibility for one’s mental health.

What are the take-home messages?
If a woman with ID has been abused it is important that she gets the support that she needs at the time. Women are more able to be resilient when they have good support.

To learn more about these findings contact Jennifer Conder.

Full Journal Article
Conder, J. A., Mirfin-Veitch, B. F., & Gates, S. (2015). Risk and resilience factors in the mental health and well-being of women with intellectual disability. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities.