Mental Health in Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

This Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Conversation on Research in Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities was presented on March 30, 2023. This series is designed to share research in plain, accessible language with the community.

Adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) report mental distress almost five times more often than adults without disabilities. Despite the prevalence, little is known about the best approaches for supporting the needs of people with IDD and co-occurring mental health challenges. Individuals with IDD can experience a multitude of psychiatric disorders, however, unlike the general population, psychiatric symptoms in this population are often attributed to their disability rather than mental illness, in a phenomenon known as "diagnostic overshadowing.”

Join us for an online community discussion with VKC researchers on the topic of mental health and IDD, touching on themes such as increased stigma, accessibility and affordability of supports and treatment options, and more.


  • Autumn Kujawa, Ph.D., studies the development of emotional processing and how atypical development of these processes contributes to the risk for mood disorders.
  • Verity Rodrigues, M.S., Ph.D., is an educational consultant for VKC TRIAD and is Tennessee Children’s Mental Health Champion through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD).
  • Jessica Schwartzman, Ph.D., studies individuals with dual diagnoses of mental health disorders and disabilities. Projects primarily investigate depression and suicide among individuals with autism and intellectual disabilities.
  • Jeff Neul, M.D., Ph.D. (Moderator), Annette Schaffer Eskind Chair and Director, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center; Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Neurology, Pharmacology, and Special Education

Last Updated: 3/31/2023 2:07:43 PM

Go to the news and video index