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Getting the Green Light
According to figures from the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, there are about 800,000 adults in England with a learning disability and around 3% have schizophrenia (the figure is about 1% for all adults). To try and raise awareness about people who have a learning disability and a mental illness and to try and improve access to mental health services for this group of people, the Green Light project was launched in 2004 and has now been given a facelift with a new version of the Green Light Toolkit.
The Green Light Project
When the project was originally launched I was involved in delivering training to staff on in-patient mental health wards to raise awareness about the project. The project was thought necessary because people with both learning disability and mental illness were getting a less good service, mainly because learning disability services and mental health services were not working closely together enough so sometimes people were slipping through the net and their whole needs were not being met. The aim of the project was for mental health services to audit their provision, so they could honestly say what kind of service people with learning disability were getting to meet their mental health needs, and make changes where necessary. The re-launched Green Light toolkit also focuses on the needs of people with both autism and mental health problems.
Asking the right questions
The idea of the toolkit is that residential or community services for people with mental health problems could ask themselves a few questions, such as:
- How easy would it be for someone with a learning disability to access help with their mental health problems?
- How would you know if someone with a learning disability has a good experience of help with their mental health problems?
- What would someone who had mental health problems and a learning disability say was important to them?
These might be questions you and your service might want to ask yourselves.
Promoting good practice
What would we hope to come out of the Green Light project? Well I think that could be summed up as an inclusive approach to mental health services. However that does not mean that staff in mental health should be expected to work alone. They should be able to work collaboratively with learning disability staff and get specialist input when needed.
Why not have a look at the Toolkit and see if it can help your service review its own quality and promote good practice? The Green Light Toolkit 2013 is produced by the National Development Team for inclusion (NDTi) and can be downloaded from: