The Project

Project duration

From 1st September 2020 to 31 August 2023

Project introduction

Persons with intellectual disabilities (PwID) & Persons with mental health conditions (PwMHC), like any other human being, have sexual desires, need affective relationships & freedom to express their sexuality. In this regard, the UN Convention on the Rights of People with disabilities (UNCRPD), ratified by the European Union, states that People with Disabilities have the same human rights as everyone in all areas of life. These rights include rights related to sexuality. However, commonly, people with intellectual disabilities & mental health conditions have lacked an integral sexual education & support to help them in their sexual lives.

This context is slowly changing. Policy makers & key stakeholders are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of addressing the sexuality of PwID & PwMHC as an inherentright. However, in spite of the fact that lot of excellent educative material has been produced to raise awareness & train with regards to sexuality, it seems to have had a low impact so far with regards to how PwID & PwMHC are actually able to practise sexual activities & express their sexuality in whatever way they choose.

The SMARTS Project (Supporting Me About Rights to Sexuality) is devoted to filling this gap, between knowledge learnt & practical implementation. This will be done through 2 perspectives:

1. By promoting active Supported Decision Making (SDM) in real life contexts in the field of sexuality
2. By promoting the Implementation of specific policies & procedures from support service organisations to better address sexuality issues.

Project objectives

The Specific Objective of the project are the following: Better identify support needs of PwID & PwMHC in the field of sexuality.
  • Develop skills of PwID & PwMHC & care providers to make supported decisions in the field of sexuality Capacitate care providers to implement practical support in the field of sexuality.
  • To create user-friendly resources for PwID & PwMHC to better address their rights with regard to sexuality.
  • Raise awareness about the need & available means to address SDM in the field of sexuality for PwID & PwMHC Advocate at EU & local level about the importance of addressing sexual support for PwID & PwMHC.

Project target groups

The project will have 2 main target groups:

  • Care providers supporting PwID & PwMHC.
  • Adults with intellectual disabilities & mental health conditions who wish to exercise more control over decision affecting their daily sexual life.
  • Profiles: Family members Professionals & staff members Support provider organizations

Expected results

  • Expected Results during the project: PwID & MHC feel more informed with regards to their rights in the sexuality field.
  • PwID & MHC feel more empowered to make decisions with regard to their sexuality Supporters (family members, staff & professionals) have improved their understanding on the needs of PwID & PwMHC with regard to addressing & expressing their sexuality.
  • Supporters (family members, staff & professionals) feel better equipped & skilled to support decision making in the field of sexuality Increased SDM with regards to sexuality taking place in organizations & services Service managers feel better equipped to assess & address procedural changes to better support the sexuality rights of the users Increased capacity within the partnership to deliver the SMARTS training.

Expected long term impacts of the project

  • Increased general openness & positive attitude to address the ( still often sensitive) topic of sexuality of PwID & PwMHC both by users & supporters.
  • The SDM approach is increasingly accepted by professionals, support organizations & users themselves as the appropriate strategy to address & implement the rights of PwID & PwMHC with regards to their sexual needs, wishes & expression in accordance with the UNCRPD principles.
  • Key organizational procedures proven positive to support sexuality of PwID & PwMHC within a variety of support services are progressively accepted & integrated by organization managers.