Unfortunately, agencies such as The National Benefit Authority still report evidence of a stigma attached to mental illnesses, as opposed to more “traditional” physical disabilities. Although mental illnesses are among the most common causes of disabilities, very few mentally disabled people are taking advantage of the benefits that are available to them, such as tax credits and deductions. This is partially because they and their loved ones aren’t aware of the benefits that are available to them, but in many cases it may also be the result of shame, fear and a lack of understanding.
Mental illnesses account for 50 percent of the leading causes of disability in the world, according to Dr. Blake Woodside, MD, FRCPC, President Elect of the Canadian Psychiatric Association. Based on this information, one would think mental disabilities would make up a significant portion of the disability benefits applications being filed and approved. Sadly, however, this is not the case.
Many people believe the inequity in disability tax benefits for people with mental illnesses is the result of an ongoing stigma associated with these illnesses. More studies are needed to look into this issue further, and more education would certainly help to begin removing this unfair stigma.