Support Needed for Mental Illness in the Workplace

Happy Monday! Today I want to share a recent article from USA Today that seems to address some issues I’ve been seeing (and living, let’s face it) about a lack of support around people with mental illness in the workplace.

I’ve been hitting a lot of big roadblocks when it comes to applying for SSDI, and I’ve honestly had some big questions about how our disability system works (or doesn’t work) here in the US. I’ve come across countless people who are against the whole idea of SSDI because it doesn’t support people who are disabled and want to work part time, and the current system seems to only support an “all” or “nothing” style of support. There have been so many situations I’ve found myself in where I know I could mentally benefit from working a few hours a week (giving my life a better sense of structure and a bigger sense of accomplishment and purpose) but the way the system is set up, trying to help myself this way is extremely frowned upon.

The article I’m sharing today addresses the idea of a “supported employment program” that potentially allows employers to do a better job of bridging the gap between the needs of their companies and realistic employment abilities of those with mental illness (which, let’s be honest, can widely vary for any given person over time). Personally, I consider this to be a stellar idea… I am just not sure how well this could realistically be executed. If companies aren’t currently willing to make the necessary accommodations for exceptionally well qualified applicants with mental illness as it is (something I have experienced several times), what would encourage them to use a program like this one?

At any rate, you can check out the article here. Give it a read and let me know what you think!

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7 responses to “Support Needed for Mental Illness in the Workplace

  1. I’m on SSDI and just went through a medical review. The first question was have you worked at all during a period of time. They didn’t ask just for full time work. They wanted to know about any kind of work. It is truly an all or nothing federal system. I would love to work part time but I’m afraid of losing my benefits and insurance.

    • I definitely understand. Thanks for sharing your experience, I think it is good for people to know about the experiences people on SSDI are actually having!

  2. i think you can work part-time and still keep your benefits as long a you don’t earn over $700 or so. There is also a program called Ticket to Work, which helps you find jobs and work for a while without losing your benefits. If you are able to work full-time, you will of course lose your benefits, but if you find you can’t work again, your benefits will be reinstated.

    • I know a couple people who have been involved in the ticket to work program, but from what they told me (and I could be completely off base here) the program only lasts a year(?) and benefits are phased out after that year (heck, I was told the fact that I blog 3 hours a week was going to count against me!). While working part time (up to a certain point) is “allowed” many judges and SSDI case reviewers will count that activity against you as well. I know that not every judge or reviewer does this, but the ones that do seem to instill a sense of fear in people that keep them from working either way. Apart from the time after benefits are awarded, going through the application process (now over a year and a half for me so far) I have been told not to work at all or risk being denied benefits in the first place (despite having a disability). The SSDI policies and practices haven’t lined up in my experience, but that could have to do (partially) with where I live (Seattle). At any rate, if the policies you mentioned are being enforced (without the use of scare-tactics) I still think there is a gap, namely in workplace environments being unwilling to accommodate for those with mental illness. Thanks!

  3. Support is definitely necessary but as you say, finding a way to effectively implement it can be an issue. The government here in Australia are looking at a new scheme for those with disability but I am not sure it provides the support needed.

  4. working on disability is never a good idea. not the way it is setup now. i know someone on ssdi. he worked part time and made around $400 per month. after 9 months his check stopped. ssa told him that if he could hold a partime job for 9 months he could work full-time. i feel guilty because employed him in my business. we contacted a lawyer friend of mine and he said ” if you recieve disabity because you cant work what do you think would happen?

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