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High jobless rate among mentally ill may actually be lower than reality

It should come as no surprise that Americans with mental illness have a harder time finding and keeping jobs than Americans without mental illness. What is surprising, though, is that the jobless rate among the mentally ill population is currently as high as it is. According to a new study, around 80 percent of those with mental illness are unemployed.

According to the report, roughly 60 percent of those with mental illnesses desire to work. Not all of them are able to, however, with around two-thirds demonstrating the ability to keep steady work. Clearly, 80 percent is a very high number, and yet that number is likely underestimating the problem, since it doesn’t account for the many mentally ill Americans who are incarcerated or living on the street. 

That so many mentally ill Americans are unable to work is a problem not only from the perspective of healing and coping—studies have shown that those with mental illness who are able to find challenging work cope better—but also from a financial perspective. Those who don’t have a steady income have to depend on somebody else for housing, food, and other support, whether it is family, private charitable organizations, or the government.

Social Security disability benefits, of course, can be an important means of support for those with mental illnesses, even if it takes time for such claims to be approved. Adults with mental illness who have work history should do themselves a favor and get in contact with an experienced attorney to determine whether they may qualify for SSDI. If approved, the benefits can be a helpful means of support while the individual works toward greater independence. 

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

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