Disability Help Center - Las Vegas - October 2019

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October 2019


In Kankakee, Illinois, in the mid-1800s, a woman with my very own name (Elizabeth Packard) took the first step in her epic and inspiring journey of reforming the legal rights of mental health patients all across the U.S. In 1860, Packard’s husband had her committed to the Illinois State Hospital for the Insane based on his personal observations that she seemed “slightly insane” to him. At this time, it was considered legal for a woman to be institutionalized at her husband’s suggestion, and Packard spent three full years in an asylum until her oldest children advocated for her release. She went on to publish books supporting the rights of married women and mental health patients, and, within her lifetime, four states revised their commitment laws, and Illinois passed a married women’s property law.

According to recent studies, 80% of Americans report experiencing immense stress when it comes to their work and finances. Since prolonged stress has been shown to increase the risk of several chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and depression, it’s crucial that we as individuals find a way to better our emotional and mental states. If you or someone you know has been struggling emotionally, you’re not alone. The Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index shows statistically significant declines in overall feelings of well-being among adults in the U.S. since 2014. While some cases are less severe than others, certain conditions and health issues can affect a person’s ability to work, which in turn, only amplifies their stress levels. Cycles like these continue, and people with emotional or mental conditions worsen over time. If you are experiencing some of your own struggles, there are ways to get help. Seeking out a counselor or therapist is always a smart first step, and we have many great resource partners we can recommend. Additionally, if your health issues are keeping you from holding a traditional job, our advocates can help you determine if you are eligible to receive SSI/SSDI benefits. The Social Security Administration recognizes a wide variety of disorders as having the potential to cause long term disability and warrant financial benefits. Some of these disorders include dementia, Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, certain anxiety and personality disorders, development disorders, and many others.

• The mental disorder must prevent you from doing any work which you have done up until now. • The mental disorder must render you unable to reasonably be trained for other work, which is available at the time of your disability. • The mental disorder must be expected to be long term, lasting at least a year. Because the diagnosis of many mental and emotional conditions can sometimes be subjective, lots of people experience a lot of frustration when trying to prove they qualify for SSI/SSDI benefits. Our advocates don’t want you to have to go through this time-consuming and tough experience alone. Getting the help you need and deserve is possible, and we want to be there every step of the way.

“If you or someone you know has been struggling emotionally, you’re not alone.”

While Packard’s story is inspiring on its own, the reason I bring it up is because October is National Emotional Wellness Month and serves as a time to spread awareness about the prevalence of emotional and mental conditions while simultaneously reducing the societal stigma associated with treatment. Contrary to popular opinion, a person’s emotional and mental well-being is just as important as their physical health.

–Elizabeth Packard

In order to qualify for these benefits, your condition must be diagnosed by a doctor and meet certain criteria.

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