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Helping the mentally ill find the resources they need

Though there is sadly a stigma attached to those individuals suffering from mental illness, these conditions can be as traumatic and disabling as any number of physical illnesses. One in ten adults will suffer from some form of serious mental illness including schizophrenia, major depression and bipolar disorder, and 40 percent of these cases reportedly go untreated.

Untreated mental illness is said to cost Missouri and Kansas local governments $59.6 million per year. The federal government also pays an additional $58.7 million for these two states. Mental illness can cost the private sector in our area as much as $228.9 million annually. Most importantly, this can cost families and individuals $275.2 million.

Treatment can be effective and reduce symptoms in 70 to 90 percent of cases. However, we need to have these individuals seen by medical professionals and have their conditions diagnosed before treatment or assistance can be provided.

Those suffering from mental illness often are unable to make a sufficient living. Those suffering from mental illnesses reportedly make $16,000 less per year on average than those not suffering from these illnesses. It must be remembered that this is annual income and that there is no guarantee that the symptoms of the illness will quickly resolve.

As attorneys working in the Social Security disability area we see the individuals who suffer from mental health issues. Besides the individual suffering from such an illness, that person's family suffers every bit as much. These individuals require assistance so that they can have the finances and resources to have their condition treated.

We cannot afford to look the other way when it comes to these conditions.

Source: The Kansas City Star, "The high cost of untreated mental illness hurts Kansas City," Lewis Diugid, April 27, 2014

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