Chances are, if someone in Tennessee does not have a mental illness, they at least know of a friend or a loved one who does. In fact, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 43.8 million adults suffer from a mental illness in any given year. Moreover, almost one in 25 adults suffer from a serious mental illness.

It used to be the case that such illnesses were “swept under the rug” and not addressed. However, these days, more people in our country are aware of mental illnesses, and the fact that sometimes a mental illness is disabling. That being said, those with a disabling mental illness often suffer silently.

NAMI reports that 2.4 million people in the United States suffer from schizophrenia. Over 6 million people in the United States suffer from bipolar disorder. And, about 16 million people in the United States suffer from major depression. Finally, 42 million people in the United States suffer from anxiety disorders.

These numbers are significant both socially and financially. According to NAMI, approximately 26 percent of adults staying in homeless shelters have a serious mental illness. In addition, serious mental illnesses cost our country $193.2 billion in lost earnings annually.

There is help for those whose mental illness keeps them from sustaining themselves financially. The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes that certain mental disorders are impairments that could constitute a disability. Therefore, people who suffer a mental illness that keeps them from earning a living and meets the other requirements set by the SSA may be able to apply for Social Security Disability benefits. An award of benefits may help a person with a mental illness cope with both his or her living expenses and his or her medical expenses as well.