Mental Health Wellness for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

A "co-occurring" disorder refers to two or more conditions that occur within one person. As much as 35% of people with an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD) have a psychiatric disorder, according to the “Diagnostic Manual – Intellectual Disability: A Textbook of Diagnosis of Mental Disorders in Persons with Intellectual Disability, Second Addition” (DM-ID-2).

People with IDD experience the same types of behavioral health disorders as other people. Common co-occurring disorders include major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, impulse control disorders, personality disorders, major neurocognitive disorders and stereotypic movement disorders, among others.

People with IDD experience trauma, including abuse and neglect, at higher rates than the general population. They are also at increased risk of developing more severe post-traumatic stress symptoms when exposed to the same traumatic event, according to the DM-ID-2.

People with IDD are often defined by their behavior. Recognizing that their behavior is a form of communication and not a symptom of disability is crucial to understanding and meeting their needs. The co-existence of a psychiatric disorder can have serious effects on a person's daily functioning and can greatly reduce their quality of life. If a person's behavior is attributed to their disability, their behavioral health conditions may go undiagnosed and they may not receive necessary treatment and support.

Wellness and Recovery

Recognizing the behavioral health needs of people with IDD is fundamental in supporting mental wellness. Understanding trauma and using a trauma-informed care approach will support resiliency and recovery.


General Mental Health Resources