Get tips on how to navigate your job search with a mental health condition.
Job searches are stressful for almost everyone, however, for those struggling with mental health conditions, looking for a job can feel particularly overwhelming. According to Forbes Media, one in five employees has a diagnosable mental health condition . You are not alone. In this article, we'll cover some things to consider during your job search, as well as tips for alleviating some of the stress that can come with applying to a new role.
Before you start applying for jobs, consider your personal goals and the kind of career you want. How would a particular position fit in with your long term mental health needs? Your mental (and physical) health should be your first priority.
A mental health condition can add a layer of stress to the application process. It can be easy to give into the pressure to apply for multiple positions as often as possible, write dozens of cover letters, and compulsively tweak your resume. Instead, allow yourself to slow down and take the time to research various jobs and companies. Search for jobs that offer a work-life balance that fits your individual needs.
Think about past jobs you have held. What did you like or dislike about the positions? What are you looking to repeat and what would you prefer to avoid? Knowing what your goals are and what kind of job will help you reach those goals can help you avoid applying for—or even accepting—a position that is not conducive to your mental health. You can be a valuable asset to a company, but not if it's the wrong company for you.
Though you are protected by law from any discrimination in hiring or working, it is ultimately up to you as to whether you check yes or no when asked if you have a disability. As you move through the job search process, it could be helpful to familiarize yourself with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and US Equal Employment Opportunity Comission, which cover the legal protections and reasonable work accommodations you may be entitled to when working in the United States.
When you are asked to attend a live or video conference interview, preparation can go a long way toward boosting your confidence. Practice answering some of the most common interview questions. Write down your answers and then, if possible, set up a mock interview with a trusted friend. The more you practice the questions likely to come up during your interview, the more relaxed you will be when the time comes to speak to a hiring manager.
Mental health issues can take a toll on self care, so set aside some time for yourself the night before the interview. Try on the clothes you plan to wear, review your written interview question answers, make a copy of your resume, and most importantly, get a good night’s sleep before the big day. Fatigue can exacerbate mental health conditions, which can lead to anxiety, fear, and brain fog.
If you need to reschedule the interview for any reason, try to contact the hiring manager as early as possible with your new availability.
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Your health and happiness should be your ultimate goal, so don't let social stigmatization discourage you from pursuing a career that supports your well-being. It's equally okay to choose not to work or to work part-time, if your life situation allows. Whatever your next career move, take advantage of Coursera’s library of free resources in our Job Search Guide, with tips on everything from choosing a career path to building new skills to acing the interview. Whether or not a steady job is in your future, you are a valuable contribution to this society.
Remember, working a 40 hour week in an office is not your only option. If your condition requires treatment, you may consider applying for part time jobs that will allow you to schedule around doctor and therapist appointments. If you have social anxiety, you may be able to find a remote job that allows you to work from home.
Some companies have employee assistance programs (EAPs) that provide support to workers. The US Office of Personnel Management defines an EAP as "a voluntary, work-based program that offers free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals, and follow-up services to employees who have personal and/or work-related problems. EAPs address a broad and complex body of issues affecting mental and emotional well-being, such as alcohol and other substance abuse, stress, grief, family problems, and psychological disorders .”
While services at each company might differ, many employers offer free access to counseling and mental health services. Contact the human resources department at your company to learn more about available benefits and services.
If your mental health condition has made it difficult to get or maintain steady employment, you may qualify for other types of support. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) maintains a list of resources on how to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
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Forbes. “1 In 5 Employees Has a Mental Health Problem: Here's What Business Leaders Can Do About It, https://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2017/02/16/1-in-5-employees-has-a-mental-health-problem-heres-what-business-leaders-can-do-about-it/?sh=541b79c638b8." Accessed September 15, 2022.
US Office of Personnel Management. “Frequently Asked Questions, https://www.opm.gov/faqs/QA.aspx?fid=4313c618-a96e-4c8e-b078-1f76912a10d9&pid=2c2b1e5b-6ff1-4940-b478-34039a1e1174." Accessed September 15, 2022.
This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.