Important to note. . .
One important clarification to make early on in the life of this blog is that the aim of this blog is to help staff in special schools to support the emotional well-being of young people with autism rather than their mental health.
Although mental health is mentioned regularly as a significant related field, most school staff will not be appropriately trained to take the lead in treating medical conditions, we are not trained medical professionals.
Mental health is not necessarily even connected with emotional well-being. For instance people who report high levels of satisfaction and happiness can be susceptible to depression whilst those who suffer trauma and distress may never develop mental health problems.
There has been a wealth of work on how best to treat people with mental health problems but not all of these are useful for people with learning disabilities or autistic spectrum disorders. For example, talking therapies are usually seen as the best way to tackle problems relating to the stresses of life (Karim, Ali, O’Reilly, 2014). Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is a commonly used, highly researched, therapy used to treat a range of problems including treating factors that lead to depression, but there is no evidence that it is effective in helping young people with autism (White et al, 2009).
Having said all that; as I have made clear in other blogs, what we do to support our learners now may have long term beneficial effects on their mental health. What we can do is try to relieve symptoms and causes of anxiety amongst those learners whom we know well and care about with the aim of preparing them for adult life. We can and must promote emotional well-being.