At our law firm, we provide support to clients with mental health challenges as well as to family members and professionals in their efforts to create safety nets for people with mental impairments. Mental Health America (MHA) first observed May as Mental Health Month in 1949, to educate the public about mental illness.
One focus in this year’s campaign is the increasing of resiliency in a variety of life’s circumstances. Of particular relevance to our clientele, who include family and professional guardians and conservators, health care agents, representative payees, trustees, financial agents and family members, is finding ways to empower their loved ones who are facing mental illness to live their best lives.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) also recognizes May as Mental Health Month, stating, “Our goal during this important month of awareness is to ask the questions: How do we change society’s thinking about biologically based mood and thought disorders? How do we remove barriers to treatment created by fear and ignorance?”
In their roles, these clients advocate for equal, fair treatment of their loved ones, who may have any of a wide variety of mental health diagnoses, including schizophrenia, dementia, depression, bipolar affective disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), alcohol or drug addiction, anxiety and others. Some people with these kinds of conditions have completely disabling symptoms, while others experience impairment in only some parts of their lives. Either way, family members and professionals can support them by arranging for and facilitating treatment, therapy, support groups, job and residential supports, social opportunities, assistive technology, public benefits and other things that can improve their lives and provide relief.
Any Coloradan with questions about their responsibilities as a guardian or in another legal role creating a fiduciary, legal relationship with someone with mental health issues – or anyone who is seeking information about which of these roles to consider so that it might help them help their loved one – should speak with an attorney with experience in legal structures designed to support and protect vulnerable people.