Getting back to work after mental illness shares many of the same issues that you would face when returning to employment after any type of illness.
First of all – Make sure that you are as honest as possible in your application.
If you have an on-going mental health issue it is important that you state that at the beginning of any working relationship, otherwise you can be sacked at a later date for not disclosing it on your application form.
Whether your absence has been due to mental or physical illness – make sure that you are now deemed to be physically fit officially by your Doctor.
You need to be sure that the question of your fitness is not going to hold up an interview if your potential new employers query it.
A Doctor’s official approval will confirm that you are ‘fit for work’ and mean the employer will have given you the job “with their eyes open”.
Can unemployment due to mental illness affect your chances of getting a job?
Mental health is still commonly stigmatized in our society unnecessarily, although the situation is getting better.
Look for employers that may have a record of positive discrimination and action towards people with mental illness.
Look for things like Kite marks towards Disabled People or Positive Action towards People schemes.
There are businesses out there who pride themselves on their inclusivity in areas such as mental health, you just need to keep a look out!
Also make sure you state how your mental illness affects you – your condition might not affect you on a daily basis or only affect you in certain situations,
Supplying detail like this will help them see that the actual risk is quite limited, rather than if you just state a mental illness without stating how little or much it affects you.
Are there any specialised services or resources for people in this situation?
If you are returning to work from quite a long time out, there is a very good book called Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel By Changing the Way You Think by Aaron T Beck, Dennis Greenberger and Christine A Padesky.
The book is all about how to think positively about your illness and move forward – you can either buy it or search for it at your local library.
You might want to try the N.H.S. Wellbeing Service, they often have advisors available who can give you tips on how to keep stress to the minimum and how to help you make the transition into employment.
Job Centre Advisors may also be able to help if you are moving from disability benefits into work. They can provide suggestions of things that may be able to help you move back into employment.
Last but not Least, Careers Advisors from the National Careers Service can also help you with looking at support for each stage.
They might suggest, for example, building up slowly – perhaps doing some volunteer work to build up your CV, getting a reference and then using that to move towards full time employment gradually.
What should your primary concern be when attempting to get back into work?
Your primary concern is really to make sure that you are clear about what you can and cannot do.
What you feel you are able to cope with?
If mental illness doesn’t affect you any more, then say that it is a past event that is very unlikely to surface again – but if it is a recurring condition be sure to be open and honest about this!
Start small, if necessary on part-time work and build up rather than trying to jump straight into a full time job that could be very stressful and may set you back.
Think about what is logistically possible for you to do (i.e. travel, hours etc) and what you can manage, build up from there and be clear with the employer about how your mental illness affects you.
Have you got any tips or experience of returning to work after illness?
Have you had to return to work after ill health? And if so was there anything that helped you which I haven’t included above?
If there is get in touch and let me know – I’m always looking for new ways to help people get the career they want!