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A study of mental health services provided to mentally retarded adults in a metropolitan area Gordon, Wendy Lorraine

Abstract

The main purpose of this study was to obtain information on the provision of mental health services to mentally retarded adults by mental health professionals in the metropolitan areas of Vancouver and Richmond in the Province of British Columbia. The four main areas of investigation were: i) the preparation and experience of mental health professionals in the area of mental retardation; ii) the provision of mental health services to mentally retarded adults; iii) the reactions of mental health professionals and parents towards the provision of mental health services to mentally retarded adults; and iv) the background of mentally retarded adults presently receiving mental health services. Two questionnaires were developed in order to gather information pertaining to the four main areas of investigation, one for mental health professionals and one for parents of mentally retarded adults. There was a smaller rate of return than expected, which may be assumed to effect the generalizability of the results of the survey. Conclusions, however, were drawn and discussed in relation to earlier studies. Some of the major findings were: 1. There appears to be a direct relationship between the level of mental retardation and the value and effectiveness of counselling and/or psychotherapeutic assistance. 2. There is an apparent lack of involvement in professional preparation and continuing education opportunities by mental health professionals in the area of mental retardation and specifically in the area of the care and treatment of the mentally retarded adult. 3. Of the mental health professionals surveyed, social workers appeared to be the most involved in the provision of mental health services to the mentally retarded adult, and this in turn appeared to reflect the type of mental health services provided to this population. 4. The majority of mental health professionals stated that a generic agency could provide counselling and/or psychotherapeutic assistance to mentally retarded adults, however, a significant majority of parents indicated that they would prefer their son or daughter to go to a separate service for the mentally retarded. Suggestions for further research included: 1. examining further the nature of "mental health" problems causing the mentally retarded adult to be placed into an institution; 2. examining further the involvement of vocational, residential, recreational, and "other" counselling personnel in the provision of counselling and/or psychotherapeutic assistance to mentally retarded adults; 3. researching the need of parents of mentally retarded adults, for parental and/or family counselling or therapy; and 4. evaluating the use of generic services for the provision of mental health services to mentally retarded adults and their families.

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