Document Type


Publication Date



Introduction: There are multiple ways to address the mental and behavioral health needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

Method: In this paper, we do not argue for a particular approach or set of approaches, but instead review the benefits of integrating mental and behavioral health supports with primary healthcare based primarily on our experience in and understanding of healthcare systems in the United States. It is estimated that between 35 and 40% of people with IDD also live with psychiatric disorders. NADD, an association for persons with developmental disabilities and mental health needs in the US holds that coexisting IDD and a psychiatric disorder interferes with a person’s education and job readiness, and disrupts family and peer relationships. Historically, the presence of such disorders among people with IDD was not well understood or was discounted altogether.

Conclusion: Over the past 15 years, however, greater attention is being paid to these comorbidities and their treatment, including the need to integrate mental and behav- ioral health treatments into primary care. Healthcare must account for multiple domains of quality of life, going beyond yearly physicals, and acute care visits, for example, to assess individuals’ healthcare goals and support them in achieving those goals. While inte- grated healthcare delivery systems can be difficult to find and access for people with IDD, such approaches are more responsive to the comprehensive needs and desires of people with IDD.


Originally Published in:

Front Public Health, 2 76. DOI:

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Included in

Public Health Commons