If you’re mentally ill can you work? What profession or job for the mentally ill?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Dream job.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Can the mentally ill find a meaningful career?

Lots of people with mental illness work full-time jobs and often these are in responsible positions, not just minimum wage jobs. How does someone in mental health recovery find a job in which they can be successful?

We used to think there were two kinds of people, the normal ones, and those others, the mentally ill. We have found that this is just not true. In the course of a lifetime, most people will experience a mental or emotional problem that would benefit from counseling. Some of these are serious and persistent mental illnesses and some are milder but even the most seriously mentally ill can get better, and we call this improvement, at least in my book, recovery.

Lots of people with a diagnosed mental illness can and do work. Don’t let anyone sell you the idea that once you get a diagnosis, your life is over and from now on some government person will need to run your life. You can develop the recovered life that is right for you.

People with a history of substance abuse issues can and do recover also. So do those with multiple challenges. If you have a history of arrest and incarceration do not give up. People with felonies on their records do recover and get their life back on track. You can work again. More on that in a future post.

What factor is most likely to result in a person who has had an episode of mental illness symptoms being able to work again?

It is all about the job fit.

The most important factor is not the presence or absence of a mental illness, but how do this person’s interest and abilities match up with the job regardless of their mental health challenges. The interaction between the job and that person’s mental illness is secondary.

Someone who is shy is not likely to enjoy a job in which they need to interact with lots of people directly. Occasionally there is a shy person who is great as an on-stage entertainer even when they are shy off stage and in small groups. Being shy may interfere with the ability to enjoy the job but a moderately shy person may take the job anyway.

If that person’s shyness has crossed the boundary and has become a diagnosable anxiety disorder that person may not simply dislike the job but may dread it so much that they throw up each day when getting ready to leave for work. They may have anxiety attacks on the job and spend all day in the bathroom or stop showing up for work altogether.

This is not the right job for them! This does not mean they can’t find a job that is a good fit. They also may be able to work on this shy anxiety problem they have so that the range of jobs they would enjoy expands.

Some people are very social. They like being around others. They crave the interaction and the attention of others. That person may be great in sales. They could do well selling real estate, jewelry, furniture or cars. That same person, say they are a recovering alcoholic would be miserable working in a bar or selling alcoholic beverages. Every day at work would be a relapse risk for that recovering person.

Working again after an episode of mental illness requires learning to manage your symptoms, finding a job that is a good fit for you and having a support system on and off the job that wants you to succeed.

Yes, there are plenty of people with Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder and the like who have good, responsible jobs. Don’t let anyone tell you that recovery is not possible. It is! You need to decide for yourself what your recovery will look like and take an active role in creating that future.

Best wishes for creating your happy life. whatever that may mean to you.

Tomorrow we talk about “so you have been convicted of a crime, you will never get a job again right?” Not so. There is recovery after all sorts of things.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Finding your perfect job

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Filling out a job application

Job application.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

What kind of job would you most like to do?

Looking for work in the best of times can be frustrating; in times of high unemployment, this becomes a horrific task.

There are some things that can help you do better at finding that job and result in a job you might truly enjoy showing up at.

 

Are you looking for a job doing anything?

You are in the largest possible group of job seekers. Look in the newspaper – under “anything” do you see any jobs listed for people to do “anything?” I don’t see any. If you really want to find a job you need to get a whole lot more specific.

How do you narrow your search and increase the chances of finding a job?

Consider getting help from a career counselor. Career counselors help people find jobs they also help you plan careers. In many areas, Professional Counselors or Clinical Counselors are trained in job placement in addition to their other duties. I do some of this work, especially when seeing co-occurring disorder clients. If you can afford to pay for career counseling think of it as an investment in your financial and emotional future.

If you can’t pay for career help right now, look for online sources, many of which are free. Also, investigate the services of governmental agencies and nonprofits in your area. Some very good suggestions can be found at those free services.

There is a difference between jobs and careers. One puts money in the bank now and pays for food but it may not lead anywhere. A career should have a path that takes you to more responsible and better-paying duties. One is not automatically better than the other though I encourage clients to think in terms of careers.

For today you may need a job to keep the bills played but eventually what career will you really want to do and how will you get there?

One job selection theory (Holland Self-directed search) thinks of jobs in terms of 6 basic functions. Figure out which type of job you would like, maybe a combination of two or three and then look for a job that uses those skills you have or would like to develop.

Say you like working with your hands. You might get a gardening job working outside mowing lawns, or you might become a trained landscape designer. More training, more pay, but it may still involve the same field. Or, still working with your hands, you might get trained as a diesel or aircraft mechanic.

Which gets paid more? The guy who puts tires on your car or the guy who fixes a jet engine? More specialized training and you get more money.

Another skill is working with people. You can work in fast food and say “Want fries with that?” or you can get a master’s degree and become a therapist. Either way, you work with people, but one pays more than the other.

So think about the various jobs you have had, which did you like best? Then look for ways you could do that sort of work but get a degree or advanced training and advance to having a career.

There are things that get in your way when you are looking for a job. What if you have a mental illness or a history of substance abuse? What if you have been convicted of a felony?

Coming up soon in this jobs-as-a-way-to-create-your-happy-life series are posts about those two problems.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.