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Unique challenges accompany mental illness

When someone finds out he or she is sick, most people react to that news with compassion. Communities often pull together to help people who are diagnosed with serious physical illnesses. However, mental illness is often put into a different category, even though it's a medical condition that deserves to be treated.

Even though medical researchers are learning more about mental conditions every year, there is still a societal stigma surrounding this type of illness. Many people with mental illnesses experience being treated differently or unfairly simply because they are living with a medical condition.

People living with a mental illness often face challenges in the job market. Employers may be reticent to hire someone with a mental condition, so it can be hard to find work. At the same time, some people have a mental illness that is completely disabling -- particularly if they are just working through the initial stages of treatment. If this is the case, it may be impossible to meet the demands of a full-time job. Statistics cited by CBS News show that the employment rate for people with mental illnesses is typically between 70 and 90 percent.

When a person is unable to work due to a mental illness, they may be able to receive support from the Social Security disability insurance program. This can provide essential financial stability while trying to find balance. Even though a person might be living with a disability for an extended period of time, they may be able to re-enter the workforce once they have found effective treatments.

More than anything, people with mental illnesses deserve to be treated fairly, which as important step in building a more supportive and inclusive society.

Source: CBS News, "For those with mental illness, stigma cuts deep," Jonathan LaPook, Aug. 11, 2013

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