The topic of mental illness at the workplace is often swept under the carpet. Nobody wants to talk about and HR is edgy if someone were to ask about it. But mental illness is very real.

Ranequa talks about it candidly with her own personal experiences and has graciously shared this post with us so we can learned more about mental illness and whether it is possible for someone with mental illness to have a healthy career.

Please do drop by her blog for insightful and inspiring posts.


“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.” – Glenn Close

Is it possible to have a thriving career with a mental illness? It’s the question that many struggle to answer.

I, myself, battle with this as well, as someone who has been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder Type 1, depression and anxiety. My career has had its share of ups and downs, and I’ll be honest – some of it is attributed to my mental health issues. From getting fired multiple times to multiple job changes, to changes in industry, to changes in income all throughout the past five years – I have had quite the ride. While it hasn’t been all bad, it certainly hasn’t been all good either.

I wanted to write this post to share my story, but to also discover resources and new ways to grow as a professional, while also seeking work that can set others like me up for success as well.

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Working while mentally ill is not easy to do. Life is hard enough all on its own. We have families to tend to, bills to pay, relationships to maintain and then jobs that we must fight to keep every day so that we can protect our livelihood overall. It’s hard.

In my opinion, we don’t talk about the struggles of “adulting” enough. In today’s world, everyone wants to look 100% together on social media with perfect pictures and profiles. That’s fine and all, but it prevents us from discussing where we struggle and hurt the most – as the problems inside us continue to go unresolved, untouched and ignored.

My Personal Experience

I am 26 years old with a career in Staffing and Recruiting. I recently accepted a new Recruiting position, and I am excited to open a new chapter in my work and life. However, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous and scared.

I am scared of failure. I have had many jobs in my short career. When I graduated from college in 2015, I had no idea the amount of struggle that would be ahead of me.

Earlier on in my career, it was small struggles that grew into major problems for me as a professional.

I struggled with concentration, screening out environmental stimuli (like sounds, sights and odors), maintaining stamina throughout the day, handling time pressures and multiple tasks, interacting with others, responding to negative feedback, and responding to change also. I had potential, but struggled to let it shine all due to my condition.

While I have grown over the years, this is still a fear of mine.

Not to mention, just handling being an adult can be challenging for someone with mental illness by itself. Sometimes, just getting out of bed and taking a shower can feel like an impossible task. I can relate.

But, it isn’t. It can be done.

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So, how do we do it?

  1. We can start by eliminating stigma. According to a survey mentioned by NAMI, ““employment rates decreased with increasing mental illness severity,” and, “People with serious mental illness are less likely than people with no, mild or moderate mental illness to be employed after age 49,” (Ponte, 2019). The idea that people with mental illness are unemployable is far from the truth. However, as people with mental illness, we NEED to know what it takes to combat this stigma. 
  2. We must be more aware. We must be aware of ourselves at work and in life. We need to know what our strengths and weaknesses are as not only professionals, but within our personal lives as well – as the two are completely intertwined, regardless of what popular opinion has to say. If we can’t take care of ourselves at home, then who we are at work will suffer as well. Become in tune with yourself and be honest about what needs to change or what you can start working on.
  3. We need to know the resources that are available to us. There are many programs that cater to helping those with mental health issues find and maintain work. Here’s just a few:
  • American with Disabilities Act (ADA) – “Employers may be required under the ADA to provide reasonable accommodations, when requested, to an employee with a disability as long as it does not cause undue hardship on the employer. Examples include telecommuting, scheduling flexibility, sick leave, breaks and noise reduction,” (Ponte, 2019).
  • Supported Employment – Individual Placement and Support (IPS) – “IPS programs seek to help people with mental illness quickly choose, secure and keep competitive employment while providing ongoing individualized long-term support,” (Ponte, 2019).
  • Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) – “Clubhouses, community-based centers open to individuals living with mental illness, offer supported employment programs. Some clubhouses also offer supported education programs,” (Ponte, 2019).

In All, People With Mental Illness Can Be Successful. It can be done.

BELIEVE IT.

Feel free to leave questions, comments or feedback below! Let’s continue to help each other – one step at a time.

Source Link: https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/October-2019/People-with-Mental-Illness-Can-Work 


R.K.B. is an award winning self-published Author, Poet and Entrepreneur from Detroit, Michigan.

Visit her website to learn more, and stay updated on her upcoming works and events: http://www.intomywoods.com !

I love sharing guest posts! Here are some of the fantastic guest posts I have found over the years:
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Guest Post: How I Dealt With A Boss From Hell
Guest Post: QUITTING YOUR JOB IN KOREA

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12 replies on “Guest Post – Working While Mentally Ill – Can High Functioning Be Done?

  1. Great post Ranequa and congrats on your new job. I agree it is possible to work when you have mental illness. It does help if you have compassionate and understanding employers. I worked successfully as a mental health nurse and ward manager for many years following recovery from psychosis and in this setting my personal experiences came in useful.

    Fortunately, our Trust withing the wonderful National Health Service (NHS) in the UK allowed us “duvet days” where we could take time out if needed. We also had access to counselling and supervision where we could share how our jobs were impacting on our mental health.

    There’s still lots to be done to reduce the stigma, even from general nurses as they often tended to be really judgemental when we were taking our patients over to them for their physical needs.

    Good luck in your new job.

    Like

  2. Thank you for sharing!!.. I believe that anything is possible if one wishes to try..as Mary Kay Ash said “If you think you can, you can. And if you think you can’t, you’re right”… or to quote Joel Brown “The only thing that stands between you and your dream is the will to try and the belief that it is actually possible.” … 🙂

    Hope today and all your tomorrows are filled with love and happiness and life is all that you wish for it to be!. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you for this. I relate to depression and anxiety and the need to maintain a job. I also see how this post is extremely helpful to those people who have children or stay at home moms and dads. They too are full time workers who may be processing emotional issues.
    Thanks again for this posting.

    Like

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