Facts & Figures

Learning Disability & Mental Ill-Health

Mental ill-health is common, affecting one in six adults at any one time (ONS,2000) and research suggests that people with learning disabilities have an increased likelihood of developing mental ill-health, with figures ranging from 25 to 40 per cent (Hatton 2002).

This could be due to those with a learning disability being more vulnerable to various factors – social, psychological, emotional and physical difficulties that can predispose people to mental health problems.


Incidence of particular mental ill-health in people with learning disabilities

  • Schizophrenia has a prevalence of 3 per cent in people with a learning disability. This is three times higher than those without a learning disability (O’Hara and Sperlinger, 1997).
  • Between 1.3 and 3.7 per cent of people with a learning disability will have depression at any one time. This is twice as high as for the general population (Deb et al., 2001).
  • Generalised anxiety disorder is equally common, and according to some studies more common, among people with learning disabilities (Raghavan, 1997).
  • The prevalence of dementia for people with Down’s syndrome is significantly increased; with prevalence rates of 9 per cent for ages 40–49, 36 per cent for ages 50–59 and 55 per cent for people aged 60–69 (Alzheimer’s Society, 2000).
  • There are higher rates of bipolar disorder in people with a learning disability (Dosen and Day, 2001).