Intellectual Disability Mental Health Service Pathway Tool

Current project


Our research shows that the mental health workforce is ill-equipped to meet the mental health needs of people with intellectual disability, with staff receiving little education around making necessary adaptations to provide quality care for this group. Similarly, at a systems level, there is poor delineation of responsibilities and interagency pathways between different government services. The siloing, or separation, of health and disability services can result in blocked access and no clear referral pathway or collaboration between services. People with intellectual disability and their support networks also lack information about supports available, and when to access services.

To assist in addressing these barriers, this project will design a service pathway web-tool (the ‘Tool’) which aims to

  1. target mainstream mental health services in NSW to promote collaborative approaches to service delivery for people with intellectual disability by guiding the development of localised, interconnected, and responsive services throughout a person’s mental health journey and
  2. provide tools for consumers to navigate the mental health sector.


Service users have reported that intellectual disability service, or care pathways clarified the care journey and reduced the repetition of assessment. Health professionals have said that service pathways deliver care in a more coordinated, standardised manner and improve communications due to a collaborative multidisciplinary approach. They have also been shown to significantly reduce the length of stay in specialist intellectual disability inpatient units.


Key components

A multi-phased, multi-method approach will be taken:

Phase 1: Consultation with people with intellectual disability, their family and support persons, and NSW mainstream mental health professionals.

Phase 2: Development of the Tool based on the results of the consultation. We will work with web-developers to design and build the Tool.

Phase 3: Piloting and evaluation of the Tool.

Phase 4: Finalisation of the Tool based on pilot feedback

Phase 5: Launch and evaluation of the Tool across NSW. There is scope for the Tool be launched nationwide depending on the outcomes of the evaluation.


Consultation with people with intellectual disability

Easy Read Information Flyer
Participant information sheet_Talking with people with ID_Easy Read
Participant Information Sheet_Talking with people with ID_Guardian consent
Participant Information Sheet_Talking with people with ID_Support person


Consultation with support networks of people with intellectual disability

Support network study Information flyer
Participant Information Sheet Support network study


Consultation with NSW Health Mental Health staff

Staff Survey Participant Information Sheet
Staff Survey Participant Information Sheet - Justice Health &Forensic Mental Health Network


Related People
Chair of Intellectual Disability Mental Health, and Head, Department of Developmental Disability Neuropsychiatry
UNSW Medicine, School of Psychiatry, Department of Developmental Disability Neuropsychiatry (3DN)