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Stigma surrounding mental illness can stop some from seeking help

According to a survey sponsored by the National Institute for Mental Health, almost half of the individuals that are suffering with major depression do not receive the medical treatment they need. With other illnesses that inhibit the ability of an individual in New Jersey to work, there are more obvious symptoms and tests that can point to an individual's inability to work. There are not blood tests or scans that can indicate an individual with major depression is unable to work. However, mental illness can take a profound toll and absolutely prevent an individual from being able to work.

Further, while the stigma surrounding mental illness is certainly lessening, it is still present. This can mean that even though it is not their fault, some individuals feel shame surrounding the way they feel and the struggles they are facing so they do not seek the help they so desperately need. As strides continue to be made in eradicating the stigma surrounding mental illness, more people may feel more confident to seek necessary treatments.

This week the U.S. House of representatives easily voted to pass a bill by a margin of 398 to 1 to remove the word "lunatic" from laws. According to a senator that sponsored the bill, "Federal law should reflect the 21st century understanding of mental illness and disease. The continued use of this pejorative term has no place in the U.S. Code."

The fact that this bill was passed with almost complete approval shows the strides that we are making as a society in understanding and supporting individuals that struggle with mental illnesses such as major depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

People that struggle with mental illness are not lunatics. They are individuals that are struggling with a real illness that often prohibits them from being able to function in the workplace. Such individuals can be eligible to receive disability benefits through private insurance, an ERISA group policy or Social Security Disability as they work to regain their mental health.

Source: Disability Scoop, "Congress Votes To Strike 'Lunatic' From Federal Law," Shaun Heasley, Dec. 6, 2012

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