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Working with a Mental Illness: Is It Possible for You?

Do you have a mental illness? Are you interested in working? Are you already working but need some help on the job? There are a lot of resources available to help you.

Myths about working with a mental illness

According to MentalHealth.gov, one of the biggest myths about people with a mental illness is that people with mental health needs, even those who are managing their mental illness well, may not tolerate the stress of holding down a job.

This is simply not true.

People with a mental health diagnosis can be just as productive as other employees. Employers who hire people with disabilities report good attendance and punctuality, as well as motivation, good work and years on the job on par with or greater than other employees.

Advantages that come from work

If you have a mental illness and are interested in working, there are many advantages to having a job! First and foremost is financial independence. Having a job can help you reach your financial goals by allowing you to earn more income. You can gain independence, meet new people and increase your self-esteem, among other things.

According to the Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion of Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities, working is also great for your health. People who work are often physically healthier than those who don’t. Work can provide structure, help you stay active and involved, and help you exercise your body, mind and skills.

Working can help you look to the future by allowing you to set goals. Do you want to develop new skills at work? Do you want a promotion or a raise? Working is a way of investing in the future.

Resources to find reasonable accommodations

Some people may need a reasonable accommodation to help perform a job, and there are many options available to you if you have a mental illness. You may need help with concentration, memory, managing stress or emotions, or time management. To find a reasonable accommodation that may be right for you, explore the Job Accommodation Network.

Help for Social Security beneficiaries  

If you receive Social Security benefits and are interested in returning to or exploring work for the first time, Social Security’s Ticket to Work program may be right for you! Learn more about the Ticket to Work program, or take part in a free, online webinar on May 25: “Ticket to Work for People with a Mental Illness: Support on Your Journey to Employment.”

Work is absolutely a possibility for people with a mental illness. Explore your options and research some of these resources as you work your way towards financial independence.

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