11 Ways to Maintain Employment with Mental Illness

11 ways to maintain employment with mental illness, www.slothspedrecovery.wordpress.com, sloth speed recovery, recovery

Balancing the world of employment with our never ending mental illness is a feat to conquer. Many of us have been fired or have had to quit because of our illness; whether we landed in hospital, had a suicide attempt, or just plain burned out. We have to apply techniques to keep our motors going and complete a hard days work.

It will never be easy, but it can be done when we apply these 10 simple techniques.


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Notes. Mental illness can take the better of us and sometimes, our memory goes with our health. To keep on top of our work, it is beneficial to take notes of all the important information or procedures you need to follow. On shift, bring the notebook with you to refer to it and take notes. Use colours, stickers, drawings or tabs; anything to have it appealing and stimulating for you.

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Honesty. Try to keep open communication with your employer. You don’t need to disclose your diagnosis or provide any information you aren’t comfortable with sharing, but you can state that you have medical issues with appointments. If you have scars and are comfortable with showing them, tell them in advance and proceed to wearing short sleeves. It will be important for your employer to be aware of your need for medical attention (whether you state mental or physical is your choice) and dates or appointments, as they can try to be understanding and accommodate accordingly.

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Allow Mistakes. We disservice ourselves by not allowing mistakes, and when we make them, we crash and burn. A mistake is not a portrayal of your character and it does not invalidate your capability as an employee or human being. You cannot beat yourself up over mistakes, because everybody makes them. They’re natural and are a part of the learning experience. Floors and counters can be cleaned, orders and items can be returned and people are understanding. Let them happen, and have fun with them.

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Consistent Therapy. Attending therapy consistently will help you regulate emotions and anxieties, especially around the job itself. It will be useful to have that third party available to brainstorm ways to improve your work environment and performance. Any troubles that may be weighing you down at work could also be alleviated through talking.

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Self-Care. It is important to put yourself first. Do you need a coffee or tea to calm down before work? Bring a mug. Are your feet sore? Take a warm bubble bath. Is your brain on overdrive? Watch a corny comedy. The smallest actions can keep you relaxed before work, and reward you after work. 

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Goals. Human beings are goal oriented creatures; we thrive on success. The smaller the goal, the quicker we achieve, the happier we will be. Set daily goals that are easy to achieve, like attaining hygiene, eating well, and arriving at work 10 minutes early. These goals, especially accomplished before a shift, can help the shift go smoother. It will boost confidence and production level.

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One Task At A Time. Mental illness can throw us in overdrive, hoping from one task to the next without thought. We forget our previous task and leave a mess for someone else to clean up. If you were working in a restaurant, for example, and you were cleaning tables as someone walked in; don’t drop the rag. Finish the task as it is a short one, tell the customer that you will be with them and possibly crack a joke to amuse them during the short wait. There are priorities in the workplace, but tasks that are short can come first. If you are doing inventory though, do not leave the customer waiting until you are done. Prioritize, and take it one step at a time.

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Work From Home. If the social aspect of the workplace is weighing you down, opt for working from home. There are many jobs available through online companies where do not need to interact with people face to face or through phone calls. You could try market research, customer service through emails or even freelance transcriptions.

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Self-Employment. Why not try to be your own boss and start up something new and exciting? Self-employment allows you to be in charge and open up a business for yourself, on your own terms. Photography, writing, art, business; the world is yours. The issue with self-employment is that it does take time and money before ever making a dollar; it is a slow process with no guarantees. It can start exciting, and end with you feeling drained and exhausted. The trick with self-employment is learning business, marketing, discipline and persistence. You will have to work another job until any income can be made.

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It’s Not The Be All, End All. Don’t depend your life success on this one job. It is likely that this will not be your last job, and that if you do get fired or need to quit, it wasn’t meant to be. It wasn’t the job or career choice for you. If you lose employment, try to get back up and start looking again. You are capable, you are valid for employment and you have value to a company out there.

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Recovery. The best way to maintain employment is to commit to recovery. Recovery will build up your confidence, help break bad coping habits and teach you self-understanding. It is an all around the clock job itself, but will be rewarding if you commit to it. You will inevitably see improvement in your workplace, yourself and your happiness.


Ultimately, your highest levels of success will come from doing a job you love, but if that isn’t an option, you have to stay persistent and take care of yourself.

Someone with mental illness can be successful in the workplace. You have to believe in yourself, build your confidence and focus on maintenance. Be the best that you can be.

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