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Raising Awareness for Mental Health



In the U.S., the month of May is (or was, depending on when your newspaper publishes this column) "Mental Health Awareness Month." Even after all these years of awareness having been raised since the first awareness month in 1949, many Americans still don't regard a disabling mental health disorder as a "real" disability. It's time to end this outdated way of thinking.

According to a U.S. Department of Labor website, the federal government has many different definitions for "disability." For Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) purposes, the government defines disability as a person who "has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment." Regarding Social Security disability benefits, the federal government has determined that a potential recipient "must have a severe disability (or combination of disabilities) that has lasted, or is expected to last, at least 12 months or result in death, and which prevents working at a 'substantial gainful activity' level."

Both these and most other definitions regarding disability make room for a person (but not every person) who has a mental health diagnosis, especially ones like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, severe and recurrent major depressive disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

I'm a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (i.e., a mental health professional). Out in public, I sometimes hear people with disabling mental health diagnoses being referred to as nut jobs, wackos or as having screws loose. I also occasionally see people using an index finger to make circles around an ear while referring to an individual they deem "crazy."

I could be wrong here, but I think a good many Americans believe people with a disabling mental issue somehow have complete control over their mental state and could quickly get over it if they would only listen to the logic friends suggested. I can't think of anything more ridiculous. Improvement can occur, but often only in baby steps and seldom completely.

As a therapist, I have yet to meet a client who just loves having a disabling mental illness. Nearly all hate the battle, the daily struggles, the unpleasant fallout. They dream of having a "normal" life, including being able to work or be married. If personally able to conquer their inner struggles today, every single one of them would do it. Without question.


Sponsored by Blue Valley Sod.

Daniel J. Vance is a licensed professional counselor and national certified counselor from Vernon Center, Minn. His weekly newspaper column Disabilities has been published in more than 260 newspapers.

Daniel J. Vance may be reached at www.danieljvance.com



Placer County News Headlines

Campgrounds Open Along Middle Fork of American RiverAUBURN, Calif. - With the arrival of Memorial Day weekend, the United States Forest Service has announced the opening of campgrounds at French Meadows and Hell Hole Reservoirs

Roseville Flash Crime Report (5.26.17)Roseville, CA- Summary digest of Roseville Police selected activity log covering the period of May 19- 26, 2017.

2017 Acura MDX: classy and versatileRoseville, CA- Now in its eighth year of production by Honda's luxury division, the 2017 Acura MDX is a midsize luxury crossover SUV that is appealing for a variety of reasons.

2017 PlacerArts Summer Concert SeriesAuburn, CA- The annual and free Auburn Summer Concert Series returns for another season beginning June 11, 2017

Affordable Housing Fee Workshops in Auburn and Kings BeachAUBURN, Calif. -- Placer County has scheduled two housing fee study workshops in June, one in Kings Beach and another in Auburn

USA Fastpitch Competition in South Placer County this JuneRocklin, CA --USA Fastpitch is coming to Roseville, Lincoln and Rocklin June 2-4 for three days of softball competition.

City of Roseville's $507 Million Proposed Operating BudgetRoseville, CA- The City of Roseville's proposed operating budget for Fiscal Year 2017-2018 is available for review

San Juan Water District Receives Excellence in Financial Reporting AwardGranite Bay, Calif. - The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada awarded the San Juan Water District

Sports Stars Join Rocklin Golf Fundraiser at Whitney OaksHall of Famer Willie Brown, Jim Plunkett, Daryle Lamonica, Charles Woodson, Phil Villapiano, Rod Martin and several more Oakland Raiders headline a dazzling field

Silversun Pickups Summer Tour with Third Eye BlindFollowing their upcoming BottleRock Napa Valley performance, this summer, Silversun Pickups will embark on a 30-date amphitheater tour opening for Third Eye Blind. The "Summer Gods" Tour celebrates Third Eye Blind's 20th anniversary

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Roseville Firefighters Union Blast City's Proposed Staffing CutsRoseville, Calif. - With rising temperatures and fire season upon us, city leaders in Roseville have proposed drastic staffing cuts to the Roseville Fire Department


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