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Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

My daughter is depressed and not working. How can I help her?

By Vaseline May31,2024

Dear Penny,

My 35 year old daughter is unemployed. She failed a graduate program two years ago after a decade of working on it, and says she has been too depressed to work. She didn’t work through high school, and in the time after that she had one job for about seven months and quit because she hated it.

I gave her financial support and she also used an inheritance of about $500,000. I hesitate to provide further support until she is willing to work or (if she is so disabled by her depression) apply for disability. But now she moochs off an older sister and won’t talk to me because I insisted she get a job. She says she will kill herself or live in a car if she has to leave her sister’s house. The sister set a deadline that is now four months away. I panic and don’t know what to do.

– At the end of my rope

Dana Miranda is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance® and a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.  Send your tough money questions to AskPenny@thepennyhoarder.com.
Dana Miranda is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance® and a contributor to The Penny Hoarder. Send your tough money questions to [email protected]. (The Penny Hoarder)

Dear End,

I’m sorry for the situation your family is going through. Mental health is a challenging issue and can be difficult for people with mental health problems and those who care for them.

To support your daughter through mental illness, listen to her when she shares what she’s experiencing, take her seriously when she talks about issues like depression and suicide, and above all, remember that she has to make her own decisions. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) shares resources to support a loved one, with the reminder that “support is not control.” “We can support and encourage our family members. However, we cannot decide for them about treatment.”

(We shared some mental health resources privately when the letter arrived, and we’ll share those at the bottom of this column as well.)

A person is only eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits if he or she has previously held a job covered by Social Security. The program typically comes with a five-month waiting period, and the agency’s definition of “disabled” is quite strict. Filing a claim will likely require a medical diagnosis of depression and an extensive treatment history, which may or may not be appropriate for your daughter.

Neither you nor your eldest daughter should feel obligated to provide financial support if you feel unable to do so or if you feel that this is not the best way to help your daughter. If you want to help in other ways, here are some resources you can direct her to:

  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) can connect you with support groups for people with mental illness and their families. Find their online resources and search for a chapter near you at NAMI.org.
  • Housing assistance through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD.gov).
  • Individual Placement and Support (IPS), a form of supported employment for employees dealing with mental health conditions, including depression.
  • Remote work, which is better suited for some people depending on mental health needs, because it offers flexibility, comfort, and control over the environment that can be difficult to get with an in-person job. Browse The Penny Hoarder’s Work-From-Home Job Board (thepennyhoarder.com/wfh) to find options that span industries and experience levels.
  • Freelancing, which may offer even more flexibility and autonomy than other remote work (although it requires self-motivation, which can be challenging for someone suffering from depression).
  • Medicaid, a state-run health insurance program that could help her get all the mental health care she needs. Also look for clinics and organizations that offer free or low-cost therapy in your area.

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• • •

Dana Miranda is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance® and a contributor to The Penny Hoarder. Send your difficult money questions to Ask [email protected].

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