Celebrating neurodiversity

March 2023

We know that people who are neurodivergent are more likely to have poor mental health for a variety of reasons, including negative perceptions from others and misdiagnosis. This Neurodiversity Celebration Week (13-19 March), we examine the relationship between mental health and neurodiversity and highlight what we can offer in this area

It’s Neurodiversity Celebration Week, an annual event which aims to challenge stereotypes and misconceptions about neurological differences.

At West Sussex Mind, we recognise that people with autism and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) are more likely to experience a mental health problem, such as anxiety or depression, and that this is commonly due to a variety of factors, including:

  • negative attitudes from other people, which mean that neurodivergent people may suffer from stigma, discrimination and loneliness, all of which can contribute to poorer mental health
  • differences in interacting with the world, which may mean that people with autism, for example, might find particular public spaces or experiences, such as making phone calls, difficult or stressful
  • misdiagnosis, where symptoms and experiences of autism or ADHD are mistaken for mental health problems. Misdiagnosis can make it harder to get the right help, which then exacerbates feelings of anxiety or depression
  • barriers to support, including wait times for autism and ADHD diagnosis, which can make mental health difficulties worse and leave people feeling hopeless.

Support for neurodivergent people

We offer a neurodivergence peer group for young people (age 18 to 25) who are already getting support with us. This is a safe space in which neurodivergent young people can find mutual support face to face or online with one of our youth mental health workers in attendance. This group is run by our Worthing-based young people's service and is for people who are receiving support with West Sussex Mind.

Our Chanctonbury and Midhurst team plans to create a peer support group for people, who are waiting for an autism assessment, have decided not to go for an assessment or who do not meet the criteria for specialist services. This will be a peer group, where adults with undiagnosed autism can share queries, knowledge, good practice and resources to help them manage their mental health better. The aim is to consult people getting support with us in the Midhurst area and to co-produce the new peer support group with them. If you're interested in getting involved in this, please email ⁠pathfinder.midhurst@westsussexmind.org

Autism training for professionals

We also offer free online autism workshops for professionals working with or supporting children and young people. These include:

  • Autism, self-harm and self-injury (23 March; 18 April; 16 May)
  • ASD and anxiety (30 March; 2 May, 23 May)
  • Communication on the autism spectrum (4 April; 16 May)
  • LGBTQ+ and autism (20 April)
  • Autism and adolescence (18 April, 11 May)

And lots more! These learning workshops are part of the Autism Professionals Programme funded by NHS Health Education England (HEE), which covers Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Oxfordshire, Kent, Surrey and Sussex. Please note that these courses aren’t suitable for parents, carers or families.

See our Eventbrite page for all courses, dates and booking information.


ADHD and mental health – guidance from national Mind

Autism and mental health - Mind - guidance from national Mind