Autism is not a mental health condition. However, we do know that autistic people are more likely to develop mental health problems. There can be many reasons for this, such as not getting the support you need.
Our website has a lot of information about mental health for autistic people. If autistic people do have mental health problems, it is vital that they get support and treatment quickly and from a professional who knows about autism. Our charity campaigns for mental health professionals to receive better autism training. With the right mental health and day-to-day support, autistic people with mental health problems will be able to live fulfilling and rewarding lives.
Research charity Autistica have launched a social media campaign to highlight the issue of autism and mental health. You might have heard their appeal on BBC Radio 4 recently.
This follows on from their report published in March which, among other issues, highlighted Swedish research which found a higher risk of suicide among high functioning autistic people or those with Asperger syndrome. With Autistica, we have called on the NHS to find out what is happening in this country and ensure all autistic people get the help they need from the NHS to prevent them reaching a crisis point.
What does it mean for me?
We know it’s likely that some people will be upset or distressed by the campaign and its messages. We need to stress that this research looks at the autistic population as a whole in Sweden.
The research does not say that autism itself is a life-limiting condition. However, it says that factors affecting the average life expectancy of autistic people in Sweden include the way that autistic people are supported in society, as well as how easy or difficult they find it to get help from health professionals.
It’s important to stress that this campaign and the earlier report do not change anything about a person’s current state of health or life expectancy. Everyone on the autism spectrum is different and, just as with the general population, life expectancy is dependent on an individual’s health and well-being. Our charity and Autistica are calling on the Government to make sure autistic people can get the right help from the NHS.
What to do if you’re concerned
- if you have concerns about your own or someone else’s health, you should speak to your GP and make sure they know you, or the person you are worried about, is on the autism spectrum
- if you are concerned or would like advice about autism and mental health, please contact our Helpline. Please note, the helpline is open 10am – 4pm Monday-Thursday, 9am – 3pm on Friday
- if you need advice on mental health, please contact the Mind Infoline, which is open 9am-6pm Monday to Friday, on 0300 123 3393
- if you need urgent emotional support contact the Samaritans on Freephone number 116 123
- if it is an emergency, call 999.