This is the fifth and final post in May to commemorate Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental Health America’s website at http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may has scores of ideas to help make people more aware about the importance of good mental health.
Conventional wisdom has long held that people with psychiatric disabilities can’t handle the stress of well-paying, responsible careers. However, research is finding that people with bipolar disorder, major depression, schizophrenia, and other major mental illnesses are pursuing, finding, and retaining successful professional positions. Here are some examples.
1. A psychiatric disability doesn’t automatically put a cap on a career. Research indicates that there is no significant relationship between diagnosis and educational attainment, income, status, type of job, or current employment.
Having a major mental illness doesn’t have to stand in the way of working full time, earning an advanced degree, holding a significant job, or assuming increasing amounts of responsibility at work. Of course, the individual may have to work harder to achieve his or her goals, but they aren’t out of reach just because someone is diagnosed with a disability.
2. People with psychiatric disabilities have been successful in all types of careers. Naturally, many consumers of mental health services go on to work in mental health self-help and advocacy, but this isn’t the only field that’s open. Others work in a wide range of health and social services positions as well as technology, sales, and other non-helping professions.
3. A psychiatric disability doesn’t have to keep the individual at the bottom of the corporate ladder. An estimated 18% of participants in a Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation study have “executive-level” jobs; CEO, president, or another position with primary responsibility and control over resources. Still more are middle managers.
4. Successful treatment is an important part of achievement. Many individuals have been hospitalized and continue to take psychotropic medications and/or see a therapist – but that hasn’t prevented them from harnessing their drive and desire to succeed. Being treated with a psychiatric disability shouldn’t hold someone back. In fact, it might even make it possible for the individual to go farther than ever before.
Source: Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Boston University. http://cpr.bu.edu.