It seems only right for a CBS News report on the social stigma attached to mental illnesses to include commentary by the director of the Mental Health Peer Connection. In this news report she talked about how the organization she works for is helping to keep people out of the hospital and in the community.
For this director, she speaks from personal experience as someone who is not only an advocate for mental health, but who has bipolar disorder herself. However, she has been out of the hospital for 18 years and is gainfully employed.
Of course though, as someone with bipolar disorder and someone who works with others who have mental illness, she is not blind to the social stigma attached to mental illness, especially in the workplace.
According to the CBS News report, the unemployment rate is high for those with mental illness, ranging between 70 and 90 percent. This is why her facility provides support and job training.
This is only half of the battle though, as employers tend to have incorrect theories when it comes to working with someone who has a mental illness. Some are very careful in how they react, afraid something is going to set a person off. However, the director reminds employers this is not necessarily how someone with mental illness acts.
The hope is that in the future more work is done to break down some of the barriers those with mental illness face in the workforce and the social stigma felt in the community.
For those with mental illness, it is important to keep in mind that Social Security benefits may also be available. An attorney with experience documenting the impact of a mental illness may be able to help secure those benefits, which is particularly important for those who are unable to work.
Source: CBS News, “For those with mental illness, stigma cuts deep,” Jonathan LaPook, Aug. 11, 2013.