To find out whether long-term physical disorders in childhood increase the risk for mental disorder, we interviewed 407 young adults and compared their findings to a control group of 123 age-matched controls. The overall prevalence of mental disorders according to ICD-8 classification exceeded 20% in both groups. Depression and phobic disorders were the most common diagnostic syndromes, being most prevalent in women with motor handicaps or short stature. Only 7 patients had received psychotherapy, 5 for psychotic symptoms. In conclusion, only a severe physical disease, visible and disabling for years in everyday life, seems to increase the risk for mental problems. The results demonstrate the need to improve the approach towards psychological problems in the somatic clinics treating patients with long-term physical diseases.