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MH2 - Learning Disabilities and Mental Health

How Does Having a Learning Disability Affect Mental Health

Having a learning disability (LD) makes certain tasks hard that are easy for others. Because of this, people with LDs face struggles more often than others. Struggles can make anyone sad, but when people with LDs struggle with something that other people find easy, that can bring them down even more. Having struggles more often makes it so more things can frustrate the person, bring them down, and make them anxious. These struggles can make it harder to have good mental health. Since people with LDs have feelings of being sad or anxious more often than most people, it can look like clinical depression and/or anxiety.

Studies show that children and adults with learning disabilities are at a much higher risk for having mental health problems. LDs affect many parts of a person’s life, such as school or work, daily routines, family life, and friendships. Kids and adults who have LDs may feel frustrated, shame, stigma, hopeless, and anxious about not meeting school/work demands.

Some things that can harm mental health in children with LDs are:

• Poor self image, low self-worth • Having trouble expressing emotions • Trouble making deep or close relationships

• Lack of friends and/or support • More struggles with school

We all get sad at times or can be anxious because of life events, but not

all people have depression or anxiety. Although it may be possible for someone with an LD to have depression and/or anxiety, a person’s mental health struggles may also be rooted in their struggles with their learning disability. Because of this, it is important to address the learning disability struggles to help solve the mental health issues.

If we don’t focus on our strengths and we have to deal with struggles often, this can bring us down and lead to poor mental health. When we are reminded over and over again of what we aren’t good at, it’s harder to see what we are good at and it’s easy to forget our strengths. We can start to feel bad about ourselves, and feel like we just can’t do anything. Feeling that way makes it a lot harder to face our hardships and get through them. Even when we have the help we need, we can feel embarrassed or ashamed about needing the help.


Duggan, L., Lockwood, A., Marshall, M., & Raghavan, R.(2004). Assessing the needs of people with learning disabilities and mental illness: development of the Learning Disability version of the Cardinal Needs Schedule. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 48(1), 25-36. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2788.2004.00587.x

Essam, V., Hardy, S., & Woodward, P. (2004). The Tuesday Group: promoting mental health. Learning Disability Practice, 7(8), 20-23. doi:10.7748/ldp2004.

Peerce, L. (2017). Learning disabilities and mental health. Nursing Standard, 31(27), 5.

Perras, C. (2015, February 18). Learning disabilities and mental health. Retrieved 2017-12 from

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