Employment and Mental Illness

I think it’s fair to say that most people want to have a job.

Employment has consistently been shown to be good for overall mental health, and an important part of recovery. It gives us social contacts, structure, physical and mental stimulation and a sense of achievement, on top of the obvious financial remunerations. Studies have shown that people who are unemployed are more likely to have poorer physical and mental health.

Now I am not in any way, shape or form, suggesting everybody should go to work. If you can’t work for whatever reason, then that’s okay. My issue is that people who struggle with their mental health are being prevented from working full time as a result of accessing mental health services, or unable to access services because they aren’t able to take time off work.

There has been a lot of research into the connection between work and mental health recovery over the years, and it’s been consistently shown that employment is often an integral part the recovery process. But how is one supposed to return fully or remain in employment if they are not able to access support without taking time off? Some people just don’t have the option of taking an afternoon off a week for appointments, or doing more hours one day and less the next. Some people might not get paid if they miss hours and simply can’t afford it.

Outside of being physically unable to take time off, there will be many people who don’t feel able to disclose that they are having difficulties with their mental health for a number of reasons, so don’t even ask for the time off. They may not want their colleagues to notice that they aren’t there and ask questions. They might not want to put excess pressure on people they work with to cover the time they aren’t there. They might be worried about it going against them when the next promotion comes around. These are all genuine and valid concerns. Unfortunately there are still employers who don’t understand or tolerate mental illness; it’s a sad and shocking truth, but it’s a truth nonetheless.

The leading cause of sickness from work in the UK is poor mental health. That is an astounding statistic. So why on earth are most mental health services only open between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday? Whilst it’s true that there are many jobs now that don’t fit into the 9-5 binary, there are still thousands and thousands of people who work standard hours.

There are so, so many barriers to accessing mental health services as it is. Enormous waiting lists, lack of funding, strict diagnostic criteria.

Employment shouldn’t be one of them.

Pin it:

Why mental illness is a barrier to employment


  1. It’s so sad to see the constant cuts and lack of funding, my partner works in Mental Health and he comes home drained, they’re so stretched with their hands tied!
    Everything you say in this post is so painfully true it just doesn’t make any sense that there just isn’t the funding and the backing behind mental health services!
    Communities seem to be falling apart, lives ruined and every day people are struggling. People who are in desperate need for help are being ignored yet there’s also people abusing the system making it even harder for those people in need.
    Heart breaking 💔

    Liked by 4 people

    • It’s so, so frustrating isn’t it? As somebody who also works in the service I can only sympathise with how tired he must feel, sadly I think it’s universal.
      I hope that they will improve in the future!

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I am so lucky in this respect Cara, I was about to quit my job and my boss took me into his office shut the door and asked me a simple question, “would I like help?” I cried for 2 hours and he said I could have time off.
    I didn’t take the time off then because they didn’t have another qualified driver for some of their drops in London.

    By the end of the day though he had got me an appointment with a psychiatrist and I’d booked in to the doctors (GP), then he got an agency driver with the qualifications so I was covered for the 2-1/2 weeks I had off 7 months ago, but I found out at the weekend I’ve been on the worst medication for my DNA/Genetic make up, so I start new meds’ this week.

    I’ve been suffering with anxiety for around 10 years but didn’t know.
    I’ve been suffering with PTSD for 24 years but didn’t know.
    I’ve probably been suffering with depression for 39 years and didn’t know.
    But I feel I’ve still got more that needs diagnosing, people have said they think I’m bi polar but I don’t know how and if they will diagnose any more.

    I feel tired now just so so tired but blogs like yours give me hope every time I read them.

    Love Clive 💙💙💙

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Quiet Minds and commented:
    At the start of the year, my partner of four years and I separated. I was left alone in our home, panicked because I didn’t know what was happening to us. I was terrified to be alone. I was terrified that I was losing him.
    I had been struggling with my depression and anxiety for years. I was always good at hiding it. But things got so bad that I couldn’t help stare off into space whilst at work. I couldn’t help running to the bathroom to heave into the toilet because I was sick to my stomach. I couldn’t help leaning into the walls because I was dizzy, because I hadn’t had a proper meal in days.
    I was not in a good place. And I was terrified to ask for time off. I felt guilty that my coworkers had to pick up slack if I left 15 minutes early. I tried to schedule my counseling on my day off, but of course that didn’t always work.
    Eventually, it got so bad at home. My fear that I was going to snap, let myself go, give in to the dark thoughts grew. I no longer had my safe haven, my rock. I was left to fend for myself. And I was terrified.
    So many times I reached for the phone, my finger hovering over the emergency number. So many times I contemplated checking myself in somewhere. But I was even too scared to do that.
    So, I did the only other thing I could think of.
    I ran. I packed up the bare essentials, I took a bus and then a plane, and I found sanctuary at my parents.
    My work was really supportive. My bosses were very understanding. All they wanted was for me to get better, for their family member to get back on their feet.
    I am so lucky I had their support and love. And I feel silly for being so scared of letting them down. I was lucky to have them and that environment, but there are so many people out there who don’t. There are so many people who struggle, trying to hide themselves, trying to hide the fact that they barely made it out of bed that morning. But they had to. Because they need work. They need money. They can’t afford to take time off, can’t afford to put themselves first.
    And that mentality needs to change. Desparetly. Companies need to accept that mental health is just as detrimental as physical health. They need to provide support for their employees. The culture needs to change, to adapt.
    Once it does, maybe, people can get the care they need before it’s too late.

    Liked by 2 people

    • My company doesn’t even care that I’m ill. Hardly checks up and have decided to band my colleagues from helping me as this is not there problem. They said they have a meeting with them to discuss this. I don’t even feel that I want to go back to such an environment. See my last post if interested. Thank you for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s definitely not easy being in an environment that first, makes you uncomfortable to even seek help and secondly, makes you feel the odd one out. I’m very sorry that you have to go through that and I wish you the best. I hope that one day, either this company or another, learns to value you and all others, in every way speaking. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This is such a good point. I definitely think many managers need to be more understanding towards employees who may have to take time off for mental health, and take it just as seriously as they do with physical health problems. I also completely agree with the issue you raised about most mental health services only being open 9-5 Monday-Friday; I have never understood the logic of this?! Like, ok, apparently mental health issues don’t exist on weekends… Anyway, loved this post and so glad I found this blog! x

    Liked by 2 people

  5. My favorite thing about job-hunting is the question on the application that asks if you have a disability. I’m bipolar, and sure enough, it’s on the list of disabilities. Being an honest person, I always clicked the box that disclosed I had a disability. I’m not sure how companies get away with asking that question because I cannot imagine them pursuing people who click that box. I stopped doing it after awhile. Part of me feels like betrayed part of who I am, but another part of me thinks, “You know what? I’ve been medicated and without incident for eight years, and my illness does not disable me in any way.” I got a new job shortly thereafter.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s