Disability and Mental Impairments: Welcome News on State Funding

One of the themes of this blog is that, by acts of Congress, the definition of disabling conditions for purposes of Social Security disability has been broadened to include numerous mental conditions, not just physical ones.

That is why, for example, we wrote two weeks ago about depression. After all, on a global basis, depression is the second leading cause of disability, behind only chronic back pain.

Actually, it should also be noted that the distinction between mental and physical is not always so easily drawn. Parkinson’s disease, for instance, has many physical symptoms. But it is, at its core, a brain disease with profound effects on the connection between the brain and the rest of the body.

In this post, then, let’s look at the status of mental health funding in Michigan and across the nation.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness reported recently that budgets for mental health funding went up in 37 states this year. Michigan was one of those 37.

The news was especially welcome because there have been numerous cuts at the state level to mental health budgets in recent years. Cumulatively, these cuts added up to more than $4 billion.

Commentators speculate that several high-profile shootings by people with mental illness issues raised awareness of the  need to provide more funding for mental health programs. The shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, were particularly influential in this regard.

Of course, there are many mental impairments for disability purposes that do not involve mental illness. Our point, however, is that, overall, increased funding for mental health is welcome news for people with disabling mental conditions.

Source: disabilityscoop, “In Shift, Most States Increase Mental Health Spending,” Michael Ollove (Stateline), Nov. 22, 2013