May is Mental Health Month

Mental Health Month began in 1949 and May marks the 63rd year of celebrating awareness of mental health conditions. This year Mental Health America is focusing on two different themes including “Do More for One in Four” and “Healing Trauma’s Invisible Wounds”.

Mental illness is the “unseen” disease that millions of Americans suffer from. It is misunderstood, stereotyped and oftentimes undiagnosed. When someone is diagnosed with a mental illness, they often feel mixed emotions ranging from shame (due to stereotypes) and relief (finally understanding there is a reason for their actions and/or emotions). What many people don’t realize is just to what extent many people with mental health issues suffer.

Mental health issues truly are invisible. Someone can look completely “normal” to the eye but may be suffering an inner turmoil that is impossible to understand unless you suffer from the illness yourself. Oftentimes, such as in cases of bipolar disorder, these people may be very bright and intelligent individuals, yet the symptoms of their disorder prevent them from maintaining steady employment. Fortunately, there is help available to those who are unable to work due to mental health reasons.

Many of the people who suffer from mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder, do qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if their conditions are severe enough that they limit the individual’s ability to maintain gainful employment. However, applying for disability benefits with a mental condition is very different than applying for benefits due to a physical disability.

Physical disabilities are more objective in nature. Such disabilities can be proven with lab results and other documented tests. Mental health issues must be proven through a history of psychiatric treatment and care. When an individual is suffering from a mental illness, the therapist and/or psychiatrist who is treating the patient will have detailed notes regarding the progression and severity of the illness and how the illness interferes with the applicant’s everyday quality of life and their ability to maintain employment. These records will be vital in proving a case for disability benefits, as they will be closely reviewed by the Disability Determination Services.

In order to receive SSD based on a mental health condition, the applicant must prove that he or she is seeking treatment for his or her condition and that even with treatment the individual is unable to work due to the limitations that the condition places on them. If an individual is not undergoing treatment and is not in therapy or under psychiatric care, it can be difficult to obtain benefits and an appeal will most likely be needed.

If you or someone you love is suffering from a mental health condition, it is important to seek treatment and get the help that is needed. The mental health professional that the applicant is working with can help the individual through the SSD claim process if the professional believes that the condition warrants disability benefits from the Social Security Administration.