Recovery-Based Wellbeing Group for People with Intellectual Disabilities

The 2018 International Mental Health Conference is almost upon us again, this year the conference will be held over the 8th – 10th August at the RACV Royal Pines on the Gold Coast, Queensland.

This annual conference is now in its 19th year and continues to be the pinnacle event in the mental health industry. The Conference provides an invaluable opportunity to build relationships and to share knowledge, research and latest policies.

Ms Leona Berrie, Manager at Wwild Svp Association joins us at the conference to discuss ‘Recovery-Based Wellbeing Group for People with Intellectual Disabilities’.


People with an intellectual disability experience mental health issues at rates 2-3 times higher than populations without disability. According to Lin (2014 in Clegg & Bigby 2017) mental health disorders and issues affect approximately 47% of adults with intellectual disabilities, double the rate experienced by adults without intellectual disabilities.

Despite high rates of poor mental health, people with intellectual disabilities experience significant barriers to accessing mental health assessment, treatment and recovery programs. Few specialised treatments/programs exist and mainstream services either deliberately screen out people with an intellectual disability or do not have programs that address the barriers to access and participation that this group experience.

A joint project between Community Living Association, and WWILD was created to develop a modified mental health group based on the broader principles of Mental Health Recovery Frameworks that prioritised addressing barriers to participant and engagement experienced by people with an intellectual disability.
This program borrows from the principles of Mental Health Recovery Frameworks, i.e. –
- Person centred
- Strengths focused
- Allows participants to be the expert in their own recovery
- Views recovery as a journey rather than a cure
- Utilises peer connection and peer facilitation.
Adjustments to make the group and its frameworks accessible to people with intellectual disabilities included:
- A focus on supporting participants to develop their own language around mental health and wellbeing.
- Facilitating a process of co-design which creates a greater commitment and sense of ownership of the group.
- A flexibility around how quickly the group progresses through the timeline of weekly topics and activities to allow responsiveness to learning needs, the ability to pursue relevant topics raised by the group and to allow space for useful discussion.
- Greater emphasis on use of visual materials (limiting any requirement for written material).


Jane Barrett is a social worker at WWILD and has worked with people with an intellectual disability for 6 years. She has worked with colleagues from WWILD and Community Living Association to develop the Wellbeing Group based on Recovery Model principals. Jane is also a co-facilitator of the group.

For further information on the 19th International Mental Health Conference and to secure your spot please visit


Please follow and like us:

Virtual Reality Changing Dementia Care in Australia

Previous post

Are We Approaching Wellness at Work from the Wrong Angle?

Next post