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Chartbook on Mental Health and Disability

Section 2: Characteristics of disability in adult life

2.3. Are there gender differences in limitations due to serious mental illness?

The most recent Mental Health Supplement to the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS-MH) conducted in 1989 shows that among people between the ages of 25 and 64 who reported a serious mental illness, a large majority also reported disability (in the form of limitations in non-work-related activities). A higher percentage of men (87.0%) than women (71.3%) reported any non-work-related limitations. The most frequently reported limitation was a reduced ability to cope with daily stress (79.1% of men; 65.9% of women). More men (60.0%) than women (41.9%) reported that their mental illness interfered with their social functioning. Similarly, 59.2% of men with serious mental illness reported limitations in their ability to concentrate on tasks, compared to 41.4% of women. Finally, more than a third (34.7%) of men, compared to only 16.9% of women reported limitations in their ability to perform instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), such as shopping and managing money.

Among those with serious mental illness, men are more likely than women experience limitations due to their mental illness.

Figure 9 (see data table for text-only version)

Figure 9: Percentage of men and women with serious mental illness reporting limitations in non-work-related activities

Source: National Center for Health Statistics (1996)

Surveys: National Health Interview Survey, Mental Health Supplement (NHIS-MH), 1989

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