October 11, 2022

5 Things To Know About Mental Illness & SSDI During Mental Illness Awareness Week

By Guest Blogger Jessie Brown, MA, Director of Programs, National Alliance on Mental Illness-St. Louis chapter (NAMI)

Mental Illness Awareness Week was established in 1990 to educate the public on mental health conditions and to reduce the stigma surrounding these conditions. Mental health conditions are conditions that change the way people think, feel and act, and they are treatable and common.

Here at NAMI St. Louis, we provide education, advocacy, and support essential to the recovery, resilience, and well-being of all who have mental health needs and for their families, caregivers, and the community throughout the St. Louis region.

Here are 5 things to know about mental health conditions:

  1. About 53 million adults in the U.S. experience a mental health condition each year and about 8 million youth in the U.S. between the ages of 6 and 17 experience a mental health condition each year.
  2. 50% of all lifetime mental health conditions begin by age 14, and 75% percent by age 24. The average delay between onset of symptoms and treatment is 11 years.
  3. Common warning signs for a mental health condition can include feeling sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks; severe and out-of-control risk taking behaviors; sudden overwhelming fear for no reason; drastic changes in mood/behavior, sleep patterns, or personality; intense worries or fears that get in the way of daily activities, and extreme difficulty in concentrating or staying still.
  4. Healthy coping strategies are important for everyone, but critical for people living with a mental health condition. Healthy coping skills can include: journaling, meditation, breathing exercises, listening to music, taking a walk or reading a book. Anything can be a coping skill as long as it’s healthy and helps you feel calmer.
  5. Per NAMI National’s website, NAMI strongly supports policies that decrease barriers to – and improve continuity of – life-saving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) benefits for people with severe mental health conditions whose symptoms prevent regular, on-going employment.

For more information on NAMI resources regarding applying for SSDI, visit: https://www.nami.org/Your-Journey/Living-with-a-Mental-Health-Condition/Social-Security-Disability-Insurance-Benefits-Su

To find out more about NAMI St. Louis, services offered, and how to get involved, visit www.namistl.org.

Editor’s note: Allsup helps individuals living with a mental illness or other mental conditions apply for ssdi and return to work.