On SAGE Insight: Mental health experiences of young autistic adults

Article title: ‘Something needs to change’: Mental health experiences of young autistic adults in England

From Autism

Given that the rates of mental health problems are disproportionately high in young people generally and that young adults display poor help-seeking behaviors, there is particular need to focus on young autistic adults, who may be especially vulnerable when it comes to mental health. Adopting a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach – in which academic researchers and young autistic adults collaborated in an equitable research partnership – this study explores young autistic people’s experiences of mental health problems and their perspectives on the support they sought, if any, for these problems.

Emerging adulthood is a difficult time for anyone, but especially so for a young person on the autism spectrum. this research identified how young autistic adults generally felt unhappy and depressed, worthless, under strain, unable to overcome their difficulties, unable to face up to problems and lacking in confidence. They also rated their quality of life to be poor. These difficulties were felt to be exacerbated by co-occurring mental health problems, which were present in the majority of our sample (approximately 80%), akin to previous reports. In the words of one young person, ‘something needs to change’.

 

This research was identified as a priority topic by young autistic adults and was designed, implemented, analysed and interpreted in partnership with young autistic adults. Results highlight how young autistic people find it difficult to evaluate their mental health, experience high levels of stigma and often face severe obstacles when trying to access mental health support. The findings also demonstrate how listening to – and learning from – young autistic people is crucial in ensuring that their mental health needs are met.

Abstract

There is a high incidence and prevalence of mental health problems among young people, with several barriers to help-seeking noted in this group. High rates of mental health problems have also been reported in children and adults on the autism spectrum. Taken together, young autistic people may be a particularly vulnerable group when it comes to mental health. Yet, there has been remarkably little work on the mental health needs and experiences of young autistic adults (16–25 years). Adopting a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach – in which academic researchers and young autistic adults collaborated in an equitable research partnership – we explored young autistic people’s experiences of mental health problems and their perspectives on the support they sought, if any, for these problems. A total of 130 young autistic adults took part in the research: 109 completed an online survey and 21 took part in detailed interviews. The results highlight how young autistic people find it difficult to evaluate their mental health, experience high levels of stigma and often face severe obstacles when trying to access mental health support. The findings also demonstrate how listening to – and learning from – young autistic people is crucial in ensuring that their mental health needs are met.

Read this article for free

Article details

Article title: ‘Something needs to change’: Mental health experiences of young autistic adults in England
Laura Crane, Fern Adams, Georgia Harper, Jack Welch, Elizabeth Pellicano1,
Article first published online: February 7, 2018
DOI: 10.1177/1362361318757048
From Autism

 

 

     
This entry was posted in Health, Psychology, SAGE Insight and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply