Prevalence of mental health conditions and relationship with general health status


There are no previous whole-country studies on mental health and its relationships with general health in learning disabilities populations; other study results vary. This study aimed to determine (1) the prevalence of mental health conditions and, (2) relationships with general health in a total population with and without learning disabilities.

What we did

We extracted data from Scotland’s Census, 2011 (94% completion rate), on learning disabilities, mental health, and general health. We calculated, for people with and without learning disabilities, the prevalence of mental health conditions. We conducted logistic regressions to determine the odds ratios of learning disabilities predicting poor mental health, and, within the learning disabilities population, the associations of poor mental health with general health status, adjusted for age and gender. 

What we found

26,349/5,295,403 (0.5%) had learning disabilities, of whom 12.8% children, 23.4% adults, 27.2% older adults had mental health conditions compared with 0.3%, 5.3%, 4.5% general population. Learning disabilities predicted mental health conditions: OR=7.1 (95% CI 6.8-7.3). General health was substantially poorer, and associated with mental health conditions: fair health OR=1.8 (95% CI 1.7-1.9), bad/very bad health OR=4.2 (95% CI 3.9-4.6). Female gender reduced the likelihood of mental health conditions: OR=0.89 (95% CI 0.89-0.95); and increase in age group up to 64 years predicted mental health conditions, thereafter the odds ratios plateaued

What these findings mean

This large-scale, whole-country study findings are important, given the previously stated lack of confidence in comparative prevalence results with the general population, and the need to plan services accordingly.

Link to publication

For further information on this research contact Laura Hughes McCormack

Page updated 25 August 2020