How the Government Can Help People With Mental Health Issues
The government can help people with mental health issues. I am on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and run a small freelance writing business (How To Get Disability Benefits For Mental Illness). Until recently, I could not get insurance because of my schizophrenia being a pre-existing condition, which forced me to stay on disability so I could get Medicare and Medicaid so I wouldn't be wiped out again if I were hospitalized. This meant I had to watch my income. So I have plenty of ideas about how the government can help people with mental health issues.
The Government Can Recognize That Mental Health Disabilities Vary in Severity
Recovery is real, but so is regression. A mental health disability, unlike a more traditional, physical disability, varies in severity as time progresses. For example, some days I can pass myself off as a non-mental health consumer, and some days I'm in the hospital. My disability varies in severity from day-to-day--or, more accurately, week to week.
Currently, I'm on medication and in therapy. Some people can work like that. I'm not one of them. So I rely on the income from SSDI and SSI to pay the bills, with my business income covering other expenses (food, clothes, three pet rats, etc.). I worry about losing my disability because I'm working part-time. All it takes is one bout of hallucinations to have me broke, unemployed, and homeless again--and if I'm off disability, I face going through a process that took me two years last time--and that's on the quick side.
The government needs to recognize that disability varies in severity--sometimes the person can work, sometimes they can't. The government can help people with mental health illness by creating a program which allows disability to be reinstated quickly if we regress. We shouldn't have to go through a years-long process again if we've already been ruled disabled once. I've seen plenty of homeless people in that situation in Indianapolis.
The Government Can Help People with Mental Health Issues by Creating a Way to Come Off Disability
I love my job. I would also like for my income to be higher than it is and take on more work. But as it is, if I make above a certain amount ($900 a month), I risk losing my benefits, including medical coverage for treatment that costs a couple grand a month. Do the math. I've already been wiped out by being hospitalized without insurance once and don't want it to happen again. So I stay on disability as a safety net, and the system perpetuates itself.
My right-wing conservative father used to believe several myths about disability until I went on it and he saw for himself what it entails. "It's perpetuating," he said. "You have an $800 car that doesn't run, so you can't work, and you can't get a better car because you'll lose your benefits."
Dad's right--the system prevents you from coming off it. There needs to be a way to come off disability if we start recovering.
This is where the government can help people with mental health illnesses with the Affordable Care Act, as well as legislation mandating mental health parity. I need insurance that covers my pre-existing condition and insurance that treats mental illness like any other disability. I need to be allowed to work without fear of losing medical coverage--the wage limit needs to be raised from $900 a month, and the asset limit needs to be raised as well (in Indiana it's $1,500 total, so Dad's $800 car is a pipe dream for me).
The Government Can Help People with Mental Health Issues with Consistent Treatment
When I was uninsured, I paid for treatment on a sliding scale and for the most part got the treatment I needed. When I went on Medicare, I no longer qualified for the sliding scale, and my mental health provider was forced to charge a certain amount--which was more than I could afford. This forced me to cut back on treatment, which caused my illness to get worse, which caused me to need more treatment that I couldn't get. Treatment needs to be consistent.
We need a common-sense approach to paying for treatment. We need for it to be affordable, possibly by subsidizing it. No one should have to start a GoFundMe page to pay for treatment. No one should be forced to go without treatment just because they're poor.
So that's how the government can help people with mental health issues. What do you think can be done?
Oberg, B. (2016, August 15). How the Government Can Help People With Mental Health Issues, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2016/08/how-the-government-can-help-people-with-mental-health-issues
Author: Becky Oberg