Mental Health Care – Help is on the Horizon – by Jennifer L. Fry, Esq.
While Social Security is processing your claim for disability and determining whether or not you are disabled, you will have the opportunity to tell Social Security everything that is wrong with you and why you are unable to work. Social Security is required to consider all of your medical problems, both physical and mental, and often it is the combination of both the physical and mental problems that disable you. We will discuss the second problem, that is, the mental or psychological conditions from which you may suffer, and how critical it is to be receiving the proper treatment for these conditions.
Countless people suffer from a multitude of medical conditions that cause them to experience pain on a daily basis. The list of medical conditions causing pain are endless but it is accurate to say that in virtually all cases where an individual has been experiencing pain on a chronic basis over a long period of time, that person nearly always develops some degree of emotional problem such as depression or anxiety. In fact, if a person suffering from chronic pain did not end up experiencing a change in mood or some amount of depression, this would be very unusual. However, often these same individuals go without needed mental health care and this simply does not have to be the case for these folks.
Why is it important to get proper treatment for any mental or emotional conditions that may be plaguing you? First and foremost, it is important that you receive proper care so that you will gain some relief from your symptoms and hopefully, with proper mental health care services, improve. Secondly, it is critical that your medical records document the difficulties you are having from a mental standpoint and how those problems would interfere with your ability to hold down a job. As far as Social Security is concerned, they take the position that if your mental or emotional problems are not written down in your medical records, then these problems must not even exist. Often it is the symptoms arising from mental health care problems, such as problems concentrating and focusing for example, which convince a judge that someone is unable to work.
How does one go about getting this very important mental health care? There are at least 3 potential solutions to consider.
Treating doctors and other primary health care providers
An honest discussion with your treating doctor, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant is a good starting point. Often your treating doctor is the person who knows you the best from a medical standpoint and may already be treating you for one or more of these emotional problems. Your doctor can initiate a referral to a psychiatric or psychological specialist who can then take over your psychiatric or psychological care. These professionals can then coordinate your treatment which hopefully, in turn, will result in you experiencing improvement.
Indigent health care providers
How can I possibly afford to go to a mental health care specialist if I have no money and no insurance? This is a very good question that many people have. Fortunately in Texas, there are county indigent mental health care providers that have to provide mental health care services to economically needy citizens in their county. Although each county has its own system and these agencies have different names, they are commonly referred to as the MHMR providers and they provide their services at either very low cost or no cost at all for those who financially qualify.
Every hospital has a social work department that employs social workers. These professionals are invaluable resources and can often help a person to access mental health care services as it is their job to make sure patients get linked to the proper services they need. The large hospitals have a staff of many social workers with the smaller hospitals, of course, having far fewer. Asking for help from the social worker is critical to gaining the access to the mental health care services you need.
The mental and emotional needs of patients so frequently go overlooked so you must speak up and ask for these services. Sometimes it even takes being forceful with your request for assistance. Remember that the squeaky wheel really does get the grease! Mental health care providers are some of the most committed professionals who, in nearly all cases, will cooperate and provide additional information regarding an individual’s specific limitations arising from their psychiatric conditions. And this helps you and us to build a strong case for you. Fortunately, there is help out there for you, and you must seek out this help.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.