If you have a mental illness, it's so important to remember that you are not alone, and that it's OK to ask for help. Many others who qualify for Social Security disability benefits have a mental illness. It's important to not only recognize those dealing with a mental illness, but to help decrease the stigma associated with these kinds of conditions. Read more...

Ticket to Work logo and The Seal of the United States Social Security Administration
Ticket to Work logo and The Seal of the United States Social Security Administration
Ticket to Work logo and The Seal of the United States Social Security Administration
Access to Employment Support Services for Social Security Disability Beneficiaries Who Want to Work
 
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From a Former Case Manager: Job Support for People with a Mental Illness

Jun 17, 2015

Kendra Berry Supervising Community Work Incentives Coordinator with Indiana WorksBy Kendra Berry, Supervising Community Work Incentives Coordinator with Indiana Works


If you have a mental illness, it's so important to remember that you are not alone, and that it's OK to ask for help. Many others who qualify for Social Security disability benefits have a mental illness. It's important to not only recognize those dealing with a mental illness, but to help decrease the stigma associated with these kinds of conditions.

After graduating from college, I began working at a community mental health center in Indiana as a case manager. Case managers assist adults living with severe mental illnesses to live in the community by monitoring their doctor's appointments, medicine intake and generally helping them meet their goals.  The great thing about case management programs is that they allow people to live normal lives in the community, and give everyone a chance to see that mental illness isn't something to be afraid of.
Since my days as a case manager, I have continued to work with people with all types of disabilities to find employment.  

One of the biggest fears people who receive Social Security disability benefits have is that returning to work will cause them to lose those benefits and their Medicare or Medicaid. This is not the case. To learn more about the myths about disability benefits and work, you can listen to me speak about this topic at Work Incentive Seminar Events. Tune in to my archived presentation, where I share examples of people I have worked with who experience mental illness, but were able to find and maintain employment with the right supports.  

If you have a mental illness and want to work, visit www.choosework.net to learn more about the resources available. For example, you can find different Employment Networks (ENs) and other Ticket to Work service providers, such Work Incentive Planning and Assistance (WIPA) projects.  Support from an EN help you find and keep a job, and staff at WIPA projects can explain how working will impact the benefits you receive.

To learn more about mental illness, visit NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness at https://www.nami.org/mhm. While you're there, you can take their StigmaFree Pledge, and learn more about forming an opinion about a person based on who they are, not their diagnosis.  NAMI has information on every diagnosis, support groups and ways to become an advocate. It's also a great place to send your family and friends to visit to help them understand what it really means to have a mental illness.  I hope everyone continues to help end the stigma associated with mental illness.

For more information about Ticket to Work and other work incentives, call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 (V) or 866-833-2967 (TTY),  M-F 8:00 AM - 8:00 PM EST.

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Kendra currently works as the Supervising Community Work Incentives Coordinator at Indiana Works, one of the WIPA projects in Indiana.  Since graduating with honors from Purdue University, she has been working with people with disabilities to help them improve their lives, and become more self-sufficient.