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Mental health disability on the increase

There are approximately 2 million adults in the United States afflicted with mental health disability, and reports of such disability have increased significantly during the last 15-years. One significant finding is that those reporting disability frequently have less access to mental health services within their communities.

There has been an increased reporting of the prevalence of depression both in the United States and in Great Britain. This does not necessarily suggest that mental illness has necessarily increased. It may only mean that reporting of such illnesses has greatly improved from that in the past. However, it should be pointed out that psychological distress has increased over time and may have contributed to more mental illness.

Due to impaired functioning among those that are mentally ill, the social and economic impact upon society can be enormous. One of the most difficult obstacles to overcome is the unwillingness of individuals struggling with mental illness to come forward possibly due to embarrassment or shame or because of feelings of hopelessness. Yet until such individuals come forward, the costs of mental illness both on a personal and societal level will continue.

Fortunately, legal counsel experienced in the area of social security disability can often help these individuals out. The process of applying for benefits may seem daunting, but experienced professionals can assist to make the claim process go more smoothly.

The good news is that severe mental illness is on the decline - at least among older adults. However, mood and anxiety disorders are more common for other portions of the population. It is fair to say that we are a long ways away from eliminating the costs of mental illness from our lives.

Source: Medscape Today, "National Trends in Mental Health Disability, 1997 - 2009," by Ramin Mojtabai, MD, PhD, MPH, Dec. 12, 2011

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