Society’s Assets is proud to join the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy and many other organizations in celebrating the 75th observance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. To raise awareness about disability employment issues, Tricia Lewis, Director of Independent Living Services at Society’s Assets, shares her story.
“I am a person with a mental health disability. For most of my career, it was something I had to hide. Sometimes I need a sick day for my mental health condition. It’s tough to ask for it when there’s nothing physical going on. I don’t have a doctor’s note because it’s not something I go to the doctor for. There’s no extra medication or treatment. I live with this every day.
“Many of my previous managers didn’t understand my disability and saw it as me just taking off for the day, being lazy, blowing them off, or faking it. When I would push through and go to work anyway, I would have significant problems and at least twice, I lost my job. It took me a decade to figure out what accommodations I need to be successful at work, and to get the confidence to ask for them.
“Now I am able to hold down my job and even got a recent promotion. I still live with my mental health disability and still take sick days when I need them, but I’ve learned to work with my disability instead of against it and to use the accommodations I’ve advocated for to keep myself healthy and at work.”
Society’s Assets is a local nonprofit that, since 1974, provides independent living services serving people of any age with any disability who live in Racine, Kenosha, Walworth, Rock, and Jefferson counties. Services include: life skills training; advocacy; peer support; youth services; information and referral; in-home personal care; demonstrations and loans of adaptive equipment; assessments for home modifications; Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) consultation, assistance with applying for Social Security and other government programs; and transportation information. If you have a disability and need assistance,