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Chartbook on Mental Health and Disability

Section 1: Mental health and disability: Definitions and prevalence

1.2. How many people have a mental health disability?

Mental health disability is a term that describes people with disabilities due to mental disorders. People with a mental health disability report certain mental disorders and/or symptoms that limit their activities. The disorders include schizophrenia, paranoid or delusional disorder, bipolar disorder, major depression, personality disorders, Alzheimer’s, substance abuse disorders or other disorders, but not learning disability or mental retardation. The symptoms include being frequently depressed or anxious, having serious difficulty coping with day-to-day stresses, and others. Limited in activity means that they indicated that the disorders and/or symptoms seriously interfere with their ability to work or attend school, or manage day-to-day activities.

Using this measure, 3.5% of the adult U.S. civilian non-institutionalized population is estimated to have a mental health disability (6.7 million people). In comparison, 15.4% of the population is estimated to have a physical health disability without a co-occurring mental health disability (29.3 million).

About 6.7 million adults (3.5% of the population) have a mental health disability.

Figure 2 (see data table for text-only version)

Figure 2: Number and percentage of U.S. civilian non-institutionalized population, 18 years and older, with mental health disability, physical health disability, and no reported disability

Source: LaPlante (2002)

Surveys: NHIS, 1994-95, NHIS-D, 1994-95

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