The Black Dog Institute, in collaboration with others, has launched an online program offering mental health support to those living with intellectual disability, Healthy Mind.

Mental ill health is more common among individuals with intellectual disability than in the general population. A lack of online tools specifically designed to be accessed by this community for support prompted the initiative.

“Supporting the mental health of those with intellectual disabilities is critical to enable people to lead their best possible lives.” Chloe Heck, Black Dog Institute, Senior Project Officer.

Healthy Mind

The program, named Healthy Mind, is the first of it's kind. The website uses an Easy Read tool designed to help people with intellectual disabilities to recognise and regulate their thoughts and feelings. Alongside Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, the program offers mindfulness and positive psychology techniques adapted for users. 

Topics Include 

  • Recognising Feelings
  • Breathe and relax
  • Taming anger
  • Having more fun
  • Tackling unhelpful thinking

    Healthy Mind Website

Healthy Mind can be a great way to facilitate a conversation about mental health. When you see the talking icon, there will be some suggested talking points relevant to the module topic. Talking points are optional and the decision to have a conversation should lie with the person you are supporting.

Each topic is supported by a worksheet that can be printed from the Resources page. These resources supplement the learning topics and allow the person to reflect and practice what they have learned away from the computer. Some activities can be printed, but this is not necessary if you do not have a printer. Topics take around 15 minutes to complete.

Fiona McKenzie who has been involved in the design of the website, and has an intellectual disability said it will be a critical resource.

"For people with a disability, especially intellectual, you need to be able to find things easily and not have to go through loads of information that's not suited to you,"

Trial

A clinical trial is being managed by the Black Dog Institute in collaboration with the Department of Development, Disability and Neuropsychiatry (3DN) at the University of NSW, is called Intellectual Disability Trial for Wellbeing Online (IDTWO). The trial aims to study precisely how tools like Healthy Mind support the mental health of people with intellectual disability. Adapting cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) into accessible and engaging tools to meet their unique learning needs and delivering the therapy online.

Dr Peter Baldwin, the Lead Investigator on the trial, is inviting Australians living with intellectual disability to sign up to the trial to help researchers understand how and the reasons why these tools can be of benefit.

Professor Julian Trollor, from 3DN, who is UNSW’s Chair of Intellectual Disability Mental Health, highlights the importance of digital health initiatives to include people with intellectual disability. And he is “excited to be partnering in this initiative.”

To sign up for the trial and more information visit the study website. To use the website without participating in the trial you can use it here.

Information sourced from Black Dog Institute.


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