The experience of claiming mental health disability benefits: A qualitative analysis of clients' perspectives

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

What Is Known on the Subject?: The decision to apply for disability benefits may be an important breakthrough in the life of people with severe mental illness. The literature regarding the process of applying for mental health disability benefits is scarce. What the Paper Adds to Existing Knowledge?: This study is, to the best of our knowledge, the first to fully describe the experience of submitting a claim for mental health disability benefits, as experienced by those diagnosed with severe mental illness. The process of applying for recognition of a mental health disability has three chronological stages—before the claim submission, during the claims process and after recognition. Clients approach the process without any prior knowledge, and therefore they need professional help when submitting their claim. A deterioration in clients’ mental health prompts them to apply. A lack of trust in the system affects the application decision/process. The medical committee hearing is described as a complex and multifaceted experience. Clients reported being extensively preoccupied with stigma throughout the process. What Are the Implications for Practice?: Professional assistance throughout the claims process is a key factor with the potential to change clients’ experience of the entire process. It is important to educate mental health nurses about the disability applicating process. Mental health professionals are encouraged to be mindful of the facilitating/hindering mechanisms that are dominant at each stage of the process. There is a need for liaising with relevant agencies that act as advocates for those diagnosed with a mental health illness. Abstract: Introduction: The decision to apply for disability benefits may be an important breakthrough in the life of those diagnosed with severe mental illness (SMI). Nevertheless, the literature regarding the application process is scarce. Aim: The aim of the study was to explore how people who receive mental health disability benefits retrospectively perceive the process of applying for and receiving these benefits. Methods: Twenty-four in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with people whose mental health disability was recognized in the past few years. Results: Analysis revealed three themes describing the process's chronological stages: Before submitting the claim (from deterioration to trust), during the claim process (from bureaucracy to understanding), after receiving recognition (from stigma to gratitude). Each stage includes facilitating factors (e.g. encouragement from professionals) and hindering factors (e.g. stigma, lack of knowledge and trust). Discussion: This is the first study to fully describe the experience of applying for mental health disability benefits, as experienced by clients. The decision to apply is perceived as complex and difficult. Although clients are extensively preoccupied with stigma throughout the process, they are able to express gratitude for the opportunities made available to them. Implications: Professional assistance throughout the claim is a key factor with the potential to change clients' experience of the entire process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)699-708
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
Volume30
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Keywords

  • claiming benefits
  • health and social policy
  • management issues
  • psycho-social intervention
  • qualitative methodology
  • rehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatric Mental Health

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