Those of us with autism are more likely to experience mental health problems than the general population. This can be because there are fewer resources and support to help develop coping skills. Also, we can experience more negative life events, and face stigma and discrimination from people and services. It’s really important that services are able to properly identify mental health problems, so people can get the right support at the right time.
"I have experienced services that treat mental health and autism as completely separate issues and both services seem fearful of people with the other condition."
In 2015 we completed a two-year research project with local Minds in Aberystwyth, Leeds and Plymouth highlighting that those of us with autism are particularly vulnerable to developing mental health problems. We found that existing services tend to treat people either for their autism or for their mental health problems, while failing to recognise the complex dynamic between the two.
With few mental health services providing specialist support for adults with autism in the UK, there is a great need to develop mental health services able to help people in an appropriate and respectful way. This is why we developed practical guidance for health and social care professionals, in partnership with local Minds and other organisations, to make sure that those of us on the autism spectrum get genuine person-centred support.
In this video Lucy talks about living with a mental health problem and autism.
Lucy says she wants support that sees her "as a whole person and not just as a collection of diagnoses".