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Insurance can be a boon to the many people with a mental illness

Monday, February 12th, 2018

Those who suffer from a mental illness often suffer in silence. Not only is there a stigma attached to having a mental illness, but it is usually no physical monikers that allow others to see that a person has a disabling mental illness. However, a significant number of disabilities fall into the category of mental or behavioral illnesses.

The burden of having a disabling medical condition can be determined through units known as disability-adjusted life years — or DALYs. A DALY is the total number of years an individual will lose due to their disabling medical condition or premature death within a certain population. A DALY is calculated by adding the number of years a person lives with their disabling medical condition with the number of years of life lost due to this disability. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 13.6 percent of DALYs in the United States are related to behavioral and mental illnesses.

Major depressive disorder made up approximately 27 percent of all behavior and mental illness DALYs. Drug use disorders constituted approximately 20 percent of these DALYs. Anxiety disorders made up around 17 percent of these DALYs. Alcohol use disorders constituted approximately 10 percent of these DALYs. Schizophrenia made up approximately 7.5 percent of these DALYs. Bipolar disorder made up approximately 5 percent of these DALYs. Dysthymia constituted approximately 5 percent of these DALYs. Disorders on the autism spectrum made up approximately 3 percent of these DALYs. Eating disorders constituted approximately 2 percent of these DALYs. ADHD and Conduct disorders made up approximately 2 percent of these DALYs. Other mental health and behavioral disorders along with idiopathic intellectual disability constituted the remaining DALYs in this category.

All in all, around 13.6 percent of all DALYs in the United States fell into the mental and behavioral illness category. This is not insignificant. While some people may be born with such disabilities, others can develop them years or even decades down the road. When a working-age person develops a disability that prevents them from doing their job, they are very fortunate if they have disability insurance. Disability insurance can compensate them for the wages lost due to an inability to work caused by a short or long-term disability. It can be the financial lifeline needed to make ends meet when a mental illness or other disabling condition renders a person unable to do their job.

Source:, “Individual Mental and Behavioral Disorders for U.S.,” accessed Jan. 28, 2018

Justin C Frankel

Written By:

Justin C. Frankel - Disability Insurance Attorney

Justin Frankel is a founding partner of the disability insurance law firm Frankel & Newfield and is a highly skilled litigator and advocate. He has published numerous articles on the challenges facing clients with private or individual disability insurance policies and those who own group or ERISA disability insurance policies.

Learn more about Justin | See Justin’s Publications



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