The benefits of employment for someone with mental health issues

When people talk about returning to work after an illness, we often conjure up images of people with crutches, casts and slings limping back to their desk. But what about returning to work after experiencing a mental health issue?

Although mental health issues aren’t visible or obvious like broken bones, they can often have a huge impact on people’s daily routine, and confidence in the workplace.

Here at WDEA Works, we want to help break down the stigma. Statistics show that almost everyone we know is somehow touched by a mental health issue, whether it affects them directly, a friend or a family member, and the more we talk about these issues, the better informed our community is as a whole.

 

To commemorate Mental Health Week earlier this month, the Swan Hill WDEA Works office was part of an information night about the benefits of employment on mental health. Several of our WDEA Works team and participants spoke on a panel, explaining how mental health has impacted them or their role in the workforce.

One of the highlights of the evening was our WDEA Works Swan Hill Site Manager, Jason Davies, sharing his experience. Jason is well known within the community for his role with job seekers, his hobbies as a keen golfer, wake boarder and musician, his work with students in the employability program and the Emergency Food Relief Committee, but many people are surprised to learn of his struggle with grief-related anxiety.

“Between my own experience, the last four years working at WDEA Works and my role with the Mental Health Week organising committee, I’ve learnt there are a range of ways people can approach a return to work after mental illness.”

“Employment can have a strong, positive effect on mental wellbeing, like higher social interaction, purpose and structure, financial stability, a sense of achievement and community contribution and independence, however we understand it isn’t always as simple as going out and getting a job…problem solved.”

 

WDEA Works is committed to making mental wellness a priority for both staff and participants, and can help people develop a transition plan if the return to work seems daunting. These can include the steps needed to achieve the goal of returning to paid work, looking at the support structures of family, friends, teachers, employment agencies, and the path of volunteer work to help people get back into a routine.

“At WDEA Works, we treat every person as an individual, and consider their specific needs when speaking with an employer. A big question is ‘should I disclose information about my mental health?”

“I don’t believe there’s a right or wrong answer –  each individual is different. However, there are many positives about being open with your employer about a mental health condition, and each work day can be easier knowing you are going into a safe and understanding environment. This type of support is particularly helpful if you’re having a bad day or feeling unmotivated to come to work.”

“I felt more confident going to work and leaving my anxiety and grief at home, and found work to be a positive outlet,” said Jason.

Sharing his own personal mental health story: Swan Hill WDEA Works Site Manager, Jason Davies 

If you’ve found mental health to be a barrier to work, or are having trouble managing your mental wellbeing in the workplace, then feel assured we can help! We strongly believe mental health is just as important as physical health, and take pride in our ability to support people in the workplace, no matter what difficulties they may face.

If you’re feeling stressed, anxious, depressed, or having difficulty coping, we can help you make changes in your life to better manage issues such as:

  • Mental health
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Anger management
  • Drug and alcohol
  • Trauma and pain
  • Grief and loss
  • Self-esteem and confidence

Contact your nearest WDEA Works office today on 1300 521 511 and we’ll arrange an appointment to discuss the best way forward.

If this article has raised any concerns with you, don’t be afraid to contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Mental Health Emergency Hotline on 13 14 65.

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  • WDEA Works Employment division incorporates both Disability Employment Services and jobactive.
  • Disability Employment Services
  • jobactive