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 behavioral 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 integrated 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.

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Published in Frontiers in Public Health, v. 2, article 76, p. 1-5.

© 2014 Ervin, Williams and Merrick. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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