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Working with a Mental Illness

Working (or attending school) with a mental illness can be a challenge for some people. Untreated psychiatric symptoms can interfere with concentration, attendance, communication and memory. What many people are unaware of, however, is that psychiatric treatment itself can often cause the same amount of, if not more, challenges in the workplace. Medications often cause cognitive dulling and problems with short term memory. They often make it difficult for many people to wake in the morning and frequent appointments with psychiatrists and therapists can result in many days missed from work.

Your employer is required under the Americans with Disabilities Act to provide reasonable accommodations for limitations caused directly by your disability. These accommodations may include a more flexible schedule so that you can attend appointments as needed, more privacy in your workspace to minimize distractions, or breaks at different times during the day when you need to take your medication. Keep in mind - employers are not required to lower the standard of performance expected or to keep you employed if you are unable to perform the basic duties your job requires you to perform.

Individuals with a mental illness should be extra concerned about stress experienced in the workplace. It would be unfortunate to lose the stability you have fought for because you get caught up in your job and become overwhelmed or fatigued. Take advantage of the laws that exist to help you.

 

Things to Remember:

Be reasonable about your limitations. Do not push yourself too hard because you are having a good day or week or month. You can accomplish more if you are mentally and physically healthy than if you push yourself too hard and end up needing time off to recover.

If you are having a problem at work, ask for help with it. If you feel you or your work would benefit from a schedule change or different approach, ask for it. You have the right to reasonable accommodations. Use it.

Learn and use stress management techniques. Take time off to relax when you need it.

If you feel you are being discriminated against - speak out! Educate yourself on your rights as a person with a disability, and do not be afraid to educate others.

 

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All information contained in this web site is strictly for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for consultation with your medical doctor or psychiatrist.
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This Site Updated 04/09/11