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Stamping out ignorance.

IT IS ESPECIALLY NOTABLE THAT A business magazine is discussing the issue of mental illness, as it constitutes half of the top 10 causes of disability worldwide (Back Talk, April 2006).

I am a social workprofessor (and single parent) with a successful career, and I have manic depression (bipolar disorder). I have been hospitalized and have taken a wide range of medications. And I have felt anger, frustration, resignation, and shame.

Letting go of the shame and stigma, and accepting that I had a mental illness, was (and still is) hard work, but it freed me to focus on getting better. More importantly, I learned to ask for help when I needed it (including at work), and to accept help when it was offered.

Employers and employees need to understand their responsibilities and rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, as it also applies to mental illness. One of the main ways in which employers can be supportive is to offer health insurance that covers mental health and to advocate for mental health parity (coverage equal to that of physical illness). Limited access to treatment results in employer disability and lost productivity.

Ruth White

Seattle

ruthwhite@gmail.com
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Author:White, Ruth
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Jul 1, 2006
Words:198
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