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Mental illness keeps many Americans from productive work

Many of our readers know either personally or through a friend or family member that finding a job is difficult for those with mental illness. A new study by the National Alliance for Mental Illness, the number of those with mental illness who are unemployed is up around eighty percent. This is understandable since many of those with mental illnesses cannot work or who do not want to work, but around 60 percent do.

According to NAMI, around two-thirds of those with a mental illness are able to maintain steady work if they are given the right resources. Very few do, though, in part because of funding limitations. This is unfortunate, because work is an effective way for those with mental illness to boost self-esteem and coping skills. 

It shouldn’t be surprising that the trouble in finding work isn’t solely because of mental illness—it is partly due to discrimination. Employers are prohibited from discriminating against those with mental illnesses, of course, but employers are often able to work around the appearance of discrimination.

For those with mental illness who are unable to find work, there is financial help available through the Social Security Administration. Social Security disability benefits are available to those who provide sufficient evidence of disability, which means the condition must be medically documented.

Working with an attorney in putting together a disability application can be helpful, since it can ensure a complete application is submitted form the start. An advocate can also come in handy when an appeal needs to be filed. 

Source: USA Today, “‘Bleak picture’ for mentally ill: 80% are jobless,” Liz Szabo, July 10, 2014. 

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