Helping people with intellectual disabilities combat anxiety
Research at the Graduate School of Health is filling the gap for therapy programs targeted towards children with an intellectual disability.
Individuals with an intellectual disability have high rates of comorbid mental health disorders (the co-occurrence of one or more disorders). For children with an intellectual disability, the prevalence of mental illness has been estimated to be as high as 50 per cent.
Anxiety has been reported to be the more prevalent mood disorder in young people with an intellectual disability. Anxious behaviour is common in children; this can include worries related to school, home, friends, new situations and phobias. While treatments for anxiety exist for the general population, what treatments are available specifically for those with an intellectual disability?
Fearless Me! is an anxiety treatment program designed specifically for children and adolescents with an intellectual disability such as borderline IQ. The program will explore the ways in which children think, feel and behave in order to help them overcome their fears and help them live a full and happy life.
Children will be exposed to numerous strategies including relaxation techniques and how to cope with worrisome situations. This method of working with thoughts, feelings and behaviours is referred to as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). CBT has been used with children and children with other developmental disabilities, but has not yet been evaluated for children with intellectual disabilities.
The research, led by clinical psychologist Anastasia Hronis, aims to fill the shortage of treatment of programs for children with intellectual disabilities with mental health concerns.
The 12 face-to-face individual therapy sessions offered by UTS Graduate School of Health are free of charge. Children and caregivers will also be given access to the Fearless Me! online program.
For more information, please email Anastasia at or visit