We're calling on the government to improve support for autistic people experiencing mental health problems. We need your help to do it.

I was an individual and unfortunately they tried to fit me into a one size fits all straitjacket

Robbie, autistic advocate

What has happened so far

On Thursday 30th November Parliament debated mental health and suicide in the autistic community for the first time. Many people approached their MP and asked them to support the debate. As a result MPs from all-sides voted unanimously for the Government and NHS England to “work closely with the autism community to develop effective and research-based mental health pathways”. In May 2018, Health Minister Lord O'Shaughnessy confirmed that a review of these pathways is going ahead and would look at mental health support for autistic children and adults.

The Minister for Care and Mental Health, Jackie Doyle-Price MP said that she will “ensure progress is made” as part of the Government’s national autism strategy. She admitted that “we still need to do much more to support people with autism, and particularly to ensure that they can access appropriate mental health services”.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has since commissioned two new mental health studies that were prioritised by autistic people and their families.

We will continue campaigning for action throughout 2018.

Autistic people often do not get the help they need. Mental health problems can be incorrectly diagnosed or missed completely. 

When problems are identified autistic people are often offered therapies that aren't appropriate for them.

Autistic people and their families are left fighting to find the support they need.

Every autistic person is different. You need to look at what that person needs. Just offering someone group therapy when they’re autistic is not going to help.

Karen, parent

3 things the government can do

  1. Deliver care that fits
    NHS England should ensure there are clear ways for autistic people to get mental health support that works for them.

    "The therapist wasn’t really able to give us strategies to cope. He hadn't met anyone like her before."
    Karen, parent
  2. Build a system that learns
    The government needs to support GPs to share information to make their services more autism-friendly.

    "When anxiety is really bad having to go to the GP is like having to climb Everest." 
    Celia, autistic adult
  3. Find out what works
    The government  needs to work with Autistica to fund research on the top mental health questions asked by autistic people and their families.

    "We assume that what helps most people will also help autistic people. It doesn’t work that way."
    Mike, parent and GP