There are varying misconceptions about people who suffer from mental illnesses and their ability to hold jobs. Some people may believe that individuals who live with a mental illness aren’t able to work because their symptoms will interfere with their job or even increase as a result of job-related stress. Other people may believe that someone who suffers from a mental illness and an addiction should not work until they are completely sober. Someone might suggest that a person with a mental illness doesn’t yet have the confidence or social skills to maintain employment. Others still may not even have a specific reason other than “someone who has a mental illness just can’t work.”
But what if working wasn’t something that just a select few “capable” people had the chance to do? What if a job is the catalyst for someone to progress in their rehabilitation? For the young woman who wants to have her own apartment, rather than live in a residential program, working could give her the confidence to believe that she is capable of living independently. For the young man who wants to be sober, working may be something to do instead of using, or it may be a reason to not use. For the father who wants to support himself and his children, working would provide him with money to pay for food, rent and utilities. For the woman who wants to find her purpose in life, work might be her reason to get up each day and feel like she is contributing to the community. For the individual who wants to make friends, or find a support system, work could be a place that they can interact with others and build relationships. For the man who doesn’t want to rely on public assistance to get by, work would provide him the money to support himself.
If you ask someone with a mental illness what their idea of recovery is, it’s likely that employment is going to fit into a route along their journey. Why shouldn’t employment be something everyone, regardless of diagnosis, has the chance to pursue?
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