People in NSW living with an intellectual disability who need treatment for mental illness will soon have access to a specialist service, where they can be assessed and supported by clinicians who are experienced in the care of people with both conditions.

Minister for Mental Health Tanya Davies today announced $4.4 million for the project over four years, which will also help local health services enhance the effectiveness of mental health care offered to people with an intellectual disability.

“This is a first for NSW that will mean clinicians, families and carers of people living with an intellectual disability will have free access to an expert team with experience treating both conditions,” Mrs Davies said.

“The presence of mental illness makes decision-making and using coping skills more challenging for people with intellectual disability and this can lead to distress.”

“Making these specialised hubs available is an important step towards welcoming and encouraging people with intellectual disability to access support and look after their mental health and overall wellbeing.”

People with intellectual disability represent about two per cent of the population, and up to 40 per cent of people with intellectual disability experience mental illness.

Mrs Davies said the hubs will operate within the Sydney Local Health District and the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, and be available to people across metropolitan, rural and regional NSW.

The Statewide Intellectual Disability and Mental Health Tertiary Hubs will work alongside community mental health services, intellectual disability teams and community managed organisations to build integrated care as part of the NSW Government’s decade-long reform of mental health care.