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Chartbook on Mental Health and Disability

Section 1: Mental health and disability: Definitions and prevalence

1.4. How many people have a mental disability and what are their conditions and symptoms?

People who answered that they had specific mental conditions and symptoms were classified as having a mental disability in an analysis of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). In 1997, 14.3 million people age 15 and over (6.9%) had a mental disability. An estimated 3.9 million people had only a mental disability, 727,000 people had both mental and communication disabilities, 5.3 million people had both mental and physical disabilities, and 4.3 million people had mental, physical, and communication disabilities.

Furthermore, 8.1 million people (3.9% of the population) reported one or more mental conditions (learning disability; mental retardation; Alzheimer’s, senility, or dementia; and other mental/emotional condition). Another 6.9 million (3.3%) reported one or more mental symptoms that seriously interfered with their ability to manage day-to-day activities (frequently anxious or depressed; trouble coping with stress; trouble concentrating; trouble getting along with others). Finally, 4.6 million (2.2%) reported difficulty keeping track of money and bills.

Over 14 million people age 15 and over have a mental disability associated with specific conditions and symptoms.

People age 15 years and older Number Percent
With a mental disability 14,267,000 6.9%
With 1 or more selected conditions 8,144,000 3.9%
  A learning disability 3,451,000 1.7%
  Mental retardation 1,366,000 0.7%
  Alzheimers, senility or dementia 1,873,000 0.9%
  Other mental/emotional condition 3,418,000 1.6%
With 1 or more selected symptoms that
seriously interfered with everyday activities
6,862,000 3.3%
  Frequently depressed or anxious 5,615,000 2.7%
  Trouble getting along with others 1,816,000 0.9%
  Trouble concentrating 3,753,000 1.8%
  Trouble coping with stress 4,659,000 2.2%
Had difficulty keeping track of money/bills 4,636,000 2.2%
Figure 4: Percentage of people with mental conditions, with symptoms that interfere with everyday activities, and with difficulty keeping track of bills

Source: McNeil (2001)

Surveys: SIPP, 1997

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