Chapter 4
Adults and Mental Health

Chapter Overview

Anxiety Disorders

Mood Disorders


Service Delivery

Other Services And Supports




  1. As individuals move into adulthood, developmental goals focus on productivity and intimacy including pursuit of education, work, leisure, creativity, and personal relationships. Good mental health enables individuals to cope with adversity while pursuing these goals.
  2. Untreated, mental disorders can lead to lost productivity, unsuccessful relationships, and significant distress and dysfunction. Mental illness in adults can have a significant and continuing effect on children in their care.
  3. Stressful life events or the manifestation of mental illness can disrupt the balance adults seek in life and result in distress and dysfunction. Severe or life-threatening trauma experienced either in childhood or adulthood can further provoke emotional and behavioral reactions that jeopardize mental health.
  4. Research has improved our understanding of mental disorders in the adult stage of the life cycle. Anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia, particularly, present special problems in this age group. Anxiety and depression contribute to the high rates of suicide in this population. Schizophrenia is the most persistently disabling condition, especially for young adults, in spite of recovery of function by some individuals in mid to late life.
  5. Research has contributed to our ability to recognize, diagnose, and treat each of these conditions effectively in terms of symptom control and behavior management. Medication and other therapies can be independent, combined, or sequenced depending on the individual’s diagnosis and personal preference.
  6. A new recovery perspective is supported by evidence on rehabilitation and treatment as well as by the personal experiences of consumers.
  7. Certain common events of midlife (e.g., divorce or other stressful life events) create mental health problems (not necessarily disorders) that may be addressed through a range of interventions.
  8. Care and treatment in the real world of practice do not conform to what research determines as best. For many reasons, at times care is inadequate but there are models for improving treatment.
  9. Substance abuse is a major co-occurring problem for adults with mental disorders. Evidence supports combined treatment, although there are substantial gaps between what research recommends and what typically is available in communities.
  10. Several special problems in care and treatment of adults have been recognized, beyond traditional mainstream mental health concerns, including racial and ethnic differences, lack of consumer involvement, and the consequences of disability and poverty.
  11. Barriers of access exist in the organization and financing of services for adults. There are specific problems with Medicare, Medicaid, income supports, housing, and managed care.

Back to Top

Home | Contents | Previous | Next