Finding a Job With Mental Illness: Career Resources | Fiscal Tiger (2023)

Work is an important part of most people’s lives, providing them with economic stability and a sense of purpose in the world. But when you’re struggling with mental illness, it can feel almost impossible to find a job that meets your needs without burning you out. If you’re looking for a new job, it can also be a challenge to settle on a career that will be personally fulfilling and financially rewarding, while also making accommodations for your mental illness.

In the workplace, mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders can seem like “invisible illnesses” that come with their own unique challenges at work and beyond. Making matters worse, there’s often a stigma attached to mental illness that can make it difficult to talk openly with your employer in order to get the support and resources you need. When you find yourself in a workplace or on a career path that is ill-suited to your particular needs, it can even exacerbate your mental illness and have a negative impact on your overall health.

While dealing with mental illness may seem like a job in and of itself, there are a variety of jobs for mentally ill people that are not only well-suited to their particular challenges and skill sets, but can even help improve their mental health! Read on for more tips of job searching with a disability, knowing your rights as an employee, navigating the workplace with a mental illness, and more.

Psychiatric Disability, Mental Illness, and the ADA

Although there is sometimes still a stigma surrounding mental illness, it’s important to remember that psychiatric and mental disorders are disabilities. Individuals with mental illnesses are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in any area of life, including employment. According to the ADA, disabled individuals should be able to access the same employment opportunities as people without disabilities. They are also entitled to reasonable accommodations related to their disabilities.

According to the ADA, about 44 million adults experience some form of mental illness, making mental health issues one of the most common workplace disabilities. Some common forms of mental illness may include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other illnesses or mood disorders. Despite their ubiquity, however, mental illnesses are often misunderstood, and can lead to workplace complications if they’re not properly addressed.

If you’re a job-seeker struggling with mental illness or another disability, it’s a good idea to know your rights. Potential employers are prohibited from discriminating against you on the basis of your disability or psychiatric history, and aren’t allowed to fail to hire, demote, or otherwise punish a candidate or employee because of a history of mental illness. Furthermore, they are required to provide reasonable accommodations for any disabled employee, as long as it doesn’t represent an undue hardship for the employer.

Disclosing a Mental Health Condition

In order to benefit from the protections put in place by the Americans with Disabilities Act, there are a few things job seekers should keep in mind as they navigate the application process. One of the most important things to remember is that individuals aren’t required to disclose their disability to a potential employer. Refraining from telling a potential employer about mental illness or disability is a legally protected choice.

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If a job requires a medical exam before you begin work, the exam may alert employers to mental illness or psychiatric disability. Employers still aren’t allowed to discriminate against potential new hires based on this disability, unless it interferes with the essential functions of the job, or if no reasonable accommodation is possible.

In the workplace, you don’t have to disclose a psychiatric disability unless you’re asking for an accommodation, in which case employers may ask for medical documentation regarding your disability. This information is confidential and can’t be shared with anyone else in the workplace. While you’re definitely within your rights to disclose your disability or to ask for an accommodation in order to help you better accomplish your job, it’s not always necessary, unless your disability is directly affecting your performance or your job is interfering with your mental health.

Reasonable Accommodations for Psychiatric Disabilities

If you do decide to ask for an accommodation, think about what areas of work your disability might impact, and reflect on what specific accommodations might best serve your needs. It’s a good idea to start thinking about asking for an accommodation, before your performance at work begins to suffer due to lack of accommodation.

When asking for an accommodation, remember to focus on things that will help to improve your job performance. This could include occasionally working from home or telecommuting, changing your schedule to better suit your needs, working part-time, or taking breaks. They may also include physical modifications to the workplace such as increased natural light, decreased noise and distractions, or assistive technology to help you better fulfill your responsibilities on the job.


Most reasonable accommodations are specific to the needs of each individual, so there’s no one size fits all approach to psychiatric disability in the workplace. Instead, the best course of action is usually to come up with an individualized plan of action that takes into account your specific strengths, needs, and challenges.

Work From Home Options for Mental Health Accommodation

If you’re struggling with mental illness in the workplace, remote work can be a great option to help mitigate stressful interactions and help manage any potential symptoms of a psychiatric disability. In recent years, innovations in technology have made remote work more and more common, with some companies even choosing to hire entirely remote teams.

In the workplace, reasonable accommodations can sometimes be difficult due to their specific nature, as well as due to the shifting and changing nature of many mental illnesses. Working from home or at another remote location often allows employees to have more control over their immediate environment, and to be better able to deal with any potential stressors or distractions. While there are many benefits to remote work, it’s important to acknowledge some typical downsides, particularly for those struggling with a psychiatric disability. If you’re considering working from home, make sure that you also get enough time outside and sufficient interaction with other people to meet your needs.

Remote work can provide greater flexibility, autonomy, and control, making it an ideal solution for those struggling from unpredictable bouts of mental illness. If your employer doesn’t typically allow remote work or telecommuting, consider asking to work remotely part of the time. If you’re on the job hunt, it’s a good idea to take a look at companies that prioritize and even celebrate the many benefits of remote work.

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Best Jobs For People With Mental Illness

While everyone’s needs are different, there are a wide variety of careers that may be well-suited to someone with a psychiatric or mental health problem. These careers can be lucrative and fulfilling, while also providing accommodations that help those with psychiatric disabilities flourish. Unless otherwise noted, all of the following information and statistics come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


  • Benefits: A job as a writer allows you flexibility, creativity, and a wide range of subject areas in which to practice your craft.
  • Average Salary: $62,000
  • Education and Skills Required: BA
  • Outlook: Writing is a steady career path, with writers in areas like marketing, entertainment, technical writing and more always in need.


  • Benefits: If you enjoy quiet, organization, and helping people, a job as a librarian might be just the thing for you!
  • Average Salary: $59,000
  • Education and Skills Required: MA
  • Outlook: As libraries continue to function as public spaces that also offer education, community, and technological services in addition to books, librarians are in steady demand.

Computer Programmer

  • Benefits: Computer Programmers can enjoy a flexible, creative job in relative solitude.
  • Average Salary: $84,000
  • Education and Skills Required: BA
  • Outlook: While computer programming jobs are in a slight decline after a surge of people interested in this career, stellar programming skills can set you ahead in the field.

Trade Jobs

  • Benefits: Like working with your hands? Trade jobs offer steady employment and an alternative path to that of an office job.
  • Average Salary: $47,000
  • Education and Skills Required: High school degree and trade school
  • Outlook: Trade jobs continue to increase each year.

Job Search Tips

When looking for a new job, it’s important to consider how your psychiatric disability might impact your work life. It’s a good idea to try to avoid jobs that are stressful or prone to triggering a strong negative reaction. If you know that there are particular activities that you dread doing, like talking on the phone or performing repetitive tasks, try to avoid jobs that you know might focus on these activities.

While you should try to avoid extremely stressful situations when possible, some level of stress and challenge is necessary in any job. For those struggling with mental illness, there are plenty of jobs out there that can balance the demands of the job with an environment that has a positive impact on your mental health!

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Resume and Interview Tips

When applying for jobs, you may not always feel ready or prepared, especially if you’re dealing with a psychiatric disability. While it might be initially scary to apply and interview for jobs when you feel like you’re not at your best, it’s often the best strategy when it comes to job hunting and future employment. Even when you’re feeling down, continue to apply for jobs and attend interviews to the best of your ability. Learning to live with your disability and recognize your needs can be an important step in achieving success in work and in life!


How to get a job with severe mental illness? ›

How to Get a Job Despite Your Mental Health Condition
  1. Think about what you need. Looking for work takes a lot of effort and energy. ...
  2. Look at unconventional options. ...
  3. Know your worth. ...
  4. Show your best self. ...
  5. Take things one day at a time. ...
  6. Consider whether to disclose. ...
  7. Take advantage of accommodations.
Jul 1, 2020

What are the best jobs for people with mental illness? ›

Jobs that offer autonomy and flexibility, like freelance writing or virtual assistant work, may be particularly beneficial for people with depression. Jobs that involve working from home in general be ideal as they often allow individuals to avoid the stress of a traditional office.

Can mental illness disqualify you from a job? ›

That means you cannot legally be fired just because you have one of the following: a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; a history of such a disability, or if an employer believes that you have one, even if you don't; or.

How do I tell HR about mental illness? ›

Be clear about the impact your mental health challenges are having at work. If the cause is work-related, share that also. As much as possible, come with suggestions for how your manager or HR can help you. Have ideas about what changes or resources you'd find beneficial.

What is a good job for someone with anxiety and depression? ›

So we've taken the pressure off your job search by rounding up the 5 best jobs for people living with depression and/or anxiety.
  • 1: Librarian. ...
  • 2: Gardener & Landscaper. ...
  • 3: Data Entry. ...
  • 4: Courier/Delivery Driver. ...
  • 5: Be your own Boss.
Mar 17, 2021

Why is it hard for people with mental illness to get a job? ›

Well, people with mental health conditions are typically held responsible and blamed for their behavior and symptoms. Simultaneously, they are perceived as unable to make decisions for themselves. This causes people with mental health conditions to be perceived as “unsuitable” for the workforce.

How to get a job with severe anxiety and depression? ›

Managing your anxiety during interviews
  1. Practice positive self talk. ...
  2. Picture yourself in the interview being cool, calm and collected.
  3. Focus on what you can control. ...
  4. Live in the present. ...
  5. Try and get a good night's sleep before the interview.
  6. Once it's all over, treat yourself to something nice.
Sep 10, 2020

What is the highest paying job in mental health? ›

In addition to being in demand, psychiatrist positions are by far the highest-paying jobs for psychology majors.

What is the best salary in mental health? ›

Highest salary that a Mental Health Counselor can earn is ₹9.9 Lakhs per year (₹82.5k per month). How does Mental Health Counselor Salary in India change with experience? An Entry Level Mental Health Counselor with less than three years of experience earns an average salary of ₹4.3 Lakhs per year.

Should I disclose my mental illness to my employer? ›

According to the ADA, employers can't require applicants or employees to disclose a disability (with a few exceptions described below). So, in most cases, disclosing a psychiatric disability is a choice, not a requirement.

What mental illness is considered a disability? ›

Any mental illness that prevents you from working can qualify for disability benefits. Amongst the most common are anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, developmental disorders, autism spectrum disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and schizophrenia spectrum disorders.

Does HR care about mental health? ›

Clearly, mental health and wellness is related to the employee experience, and the expectations in the new normal require HR leaders to provide support, empathy, and guidance for helping those who need it. To begin, they need to understand the nuances of mental health and wellness.

Is anxiety a form of mental illness? ›

Anxiety disorders are the most common of mental disorders and affect nearly 30% of adults at some point in their lives. But anxiety disorders are treatable and a number of effective treatments are available. Treatment helps most people lead normal productive lives.

Should I tell HR I'm bipolar? ›

You really don't need to tell anyone at work that you have bipolar disorder. But in certain circumstances, it can be helpful to have a conversation with your supervisor, such as when you need to take off from work for lots of appointments.

What jobs can people with depression do? ›

20 Jobs for People with Depression
  • Gardening. Horticulture offers a wide range of careers in garden centres, greenhouses, professional landscaping firms and botanical gardens. ...
  • Food Delivery. ...
  • Tutoring. ...
  • Freelancing. ...
  • Merchandising. ...
  • Postal Service. ...
  • Florist. ...
  • Dog-Walking.

How do you work a stable job when you have depression? ›

  1. Prepare for the Rush. In the beginning, committing yourself to finding a job may actually help to ease some of your depressive symptoms. ...
  2. But Know That the Initial Excitement Can Fade. ...
  3. Use Your Tools. ...
  4. Build a Support System. ...
  5. Keep Busy. ...
  6. Create a Schedule (and Stick to It) ...
  7. Stay Organized. ...
  8. Know Your Rights.
Jun 18, 2020

What jobs are good for people with extreme social anxiety? ›

9 Ideal Jobs for People with Social Anxiety
  • Editor. If you're a detail-oriented person and you're looking for a job that allows you to use your creativity, then editing might be the perfect fit for you. ...
  • Freelance Writer. ...
  • Graphic Designer. ...
  • Web Designer. ...
  • Data Entry Specialist. ...
  • Accountant. ...
  • Animal Care or Training. ...
  • Horticulturist.

What jobs are bad for your mental health? ›

The 5 Worst Jobs for Mental Health
  • Social Work. Social work consistently ranks among the most stressful jobs. ...
  • Healthcare. ...
  • Teaching. ...
  • Food Services. ...
  • Sales. ...
  • Recognizing Job Stress. ...
  • Track Stressors. ...
  • Learn Healthy Coping Mechanisms.
Sep 2, 2020

What is the unemployment rate for people with mental illness? ›

About 11.4 million U.S. adults have a serious mental illness — such as schizophrenia, anxiety, major depression and bipolar disorder — and up to 90 percent are unemployed.

Is struggling with mental health a disability? ›

Mental and psychological disabilities are among the conditions that can qualify for benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). You may qualify with severe depression, bipolar disorder, an anxiety disorder, or another mental illness that prevents you from maintaining gainful employment.

What is a good job for someone who doesn t know what to do? ›

8 Jobs for People Who Don't Know What to Do
  • Home Health Aide. Average Annual Salary: $24,000. ...
  • Police Officer. Average Annual Salary: $47,000. ...
  • Physical Therapist. Average Annual Salary: $69,000. ...
  • Pharmacist. Average Annual Salary: $119,000. ...
  • Dietician. ...
  • Army Infantryman. ...
  • Genetic Counselor. ...
  • Real Estate Agent.
Sep 5, 2022

What to do if you can't work due to anxiety? ›

If you find you cannot work due to mental illness, you may be able to obtain Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. You must provide proof of the mental health disorder by first receiving an official diagnosis of mental illness. Also, SSDI does not pay benefits until after the fifth month of disability.

How can I make money with severe anxiety? ›

  1. Writer. Writing is a dream job for many. ...
  2. Artist. An artist is another job that might be appealing if you live with social anxiety. ...
  3. Animal Care or Training. ...
  4. Accountant. ...
  5. Landscaper. ...
  6. Entrepreneur. ...
  7. Computer Programmer. ...
  8. Counselor.
Mar 31, 2023

What is the hardest job in the world mentally? ›

Based on these factors, the ten most high-stress jobs in the world, according to research from the US News Best Jobs database, are:
  • Mental health counsellor. ...
  • Anesthesiologist. ...
  • Patrol officer. ...
  • IT manager. ...
  • Construction manager. ...
  • Physician. ...
  • Lawyer. ...
  • Financial manager.
Jun 17, 2022

What type of therapy is most in demand? ›

10 in-demand therapy jobs
  • Rehabilitation counselor.
  • Mental health counselor.
  • Behavioral therapist.
  • Career counselor.
  • Recreational therapist.
  • School counselor.
  • Substance abuse counselor.
  • Marriage and family therapist.
Sep 30, 2022

What is the highest degree in mental health? ›

The Doctorate Degree Level

The doctoral degree level is required for those who want to be involved in clinical practice. This includes psychology, for instance, but also licensed mental health counseling.

What state has the highest demand for mental health counselors? ›

We found that Arizona is the best state for mental health counselor jobs, whereas South Carolina is the worst.

Where do mental health counselors make the most money? ›

Top-Paying Specializations for Mental Health Counselors
SpecializationAverage Salary (2020)
Diagnosis and Treatment Planning$42,529
Group Therapy$41,727
Case Management$40,809
1 more row

What is the best state to be a therapist in? ›

New Jersey comes in first on our "Best States for Psychologists" list. The state ranks highest on average salary at $139,110.

What not to say to HR? ›

What should you not say to HR?
  • The general rule is don't bring your everyday complaints to HR. They're not there to make your job better or easier and they might fire you simply because they don't want to hear it. ...
  • Discrimination. ...
  • Medical needs. ...
  • Pay issues. ...
  • Cooperate with HR if asked, but be smart about it.

Can your boss fire you for mental health? ›

Here is the straightforward answer regarding this issue: it is illegal for an employer to fire an employee because of a mental health condition. It is unlawful for a company to discriminate against a physical disability or mental health condition.

Should you mention mental health in interview? ›

You do not have to disclose the illness during the interview or hiring process, but it's beneficial to do so before problems arise. This way, the company has more flexibility to structure your work to minimize stress and potential problems.

What to do when you don t want to work? ›

What should I do if I don't want to work anymore?
  1. Check in with your mental health. ...
  2. Reflect on the source of your feelings. ...
  3. Envision your ideal life. ...
  4. Make time for breaks. ...
  5. Adjust your daily habits. ...
  6. Explore different careers. ...
  7. Give yourself rewards. ...
  8. Save up to take time off.
Feb 3, 2023

Can you get disability for anxiety and panic disorder? ›

Anxiety disorders like OCD, panic disorders, phobias, or PTSD are considered a disability. Therefore, they can qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Individuals must prove that it is so debilitating that it prevents them from working.

Can I get disability for anxiety? ›

Yes, the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers anxiety as a disability. However, people with anxiety may find it challenging to prove that their condition qualifies them for monthly disability benefits.

How much disability can you get for depression and anxiety? ›

The 70 percent disability rating criterion for depression and anxiety is the most inclusive insofar as it represents a wide array of symptoms, including a progression of symptoms noted in the lower disability ratings.

What are the 7 types of mental disabilities? ›

Many people also experience stigma, discrimination and violations of human rights.
  • Anxiety Disorders. ...
  • Depression. ...
  • Bipolar Disorder. ...
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) ...
  • Schizophrenia. ...
  • Eating Disorders. ...
  • Disruptive behaviour and dissocial disorders. ...
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders.
Jun 8, 2022

What is the mental status exam for SSDI? ›

The Mental Status Exam

Your memory, awareness, mood, and language skills will all be evaluated by medical professionals in a Mental Status Exam (MSE). You may be asked to remember a few words throughout the exam, discuss your childhood, view images, and describe what you see.

Can people with mental illness hold a job? ›

In 2008, the ADA extended its act to broaden this definition further to help protect employees against employment-based discrimination. This means that an employer cannot hire or fire based on mental illness. They also cannot reject you for eligible promotions or force you to take leave.

How do I tell HR I have mental illness? ›

Here are four ways to have a conversation with your boss about your mental health:
  1. Be clear and direct. This isn't the time to sugarcoat things. ...
  2. Make it an ongoing conversation. ...
  3. Discuss your roles and responsibilities. ...
  4. Come prepared and know your resources.
Sep 20, 2022

Do employers discriminate against mental illness? ›

Employment Anti-Discrimination Laws

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 501) are the federal laws that protect people with disabilities, including mental health disabilities, from discrimination at work.

What is the easiest mental illness to treat? ›

Sometimes anxiety disorders can cause fear so intense it totally disables its victims. Anxiety disorders are the most common of all mental illnesses, and they are also the most treatable.

What is the most disabling anxiety disorder? ›

Social anxiety disorder is arguably the most disabling anxiety disorder, with its frequent complications further contributing to treatment difficulties.

Is Overthinking a mental disorder? ›

Overthinking is not a recognized mental disorder by itself. But research has found that it's often a symptom of other mental health conditions, including: Depression. Anxiety disorders.

Is it hard to get a job if you are bipolar? ›

This is because it can affect your mood, concentration, energy and activity levels. This does not mean, however, that someone with bipolar disorder cannot work. Rather, finding the right job can enhance mood, increase confidence and improve the overall quality of life for someone with this mental health condition.

Can my employer fire me for being bipolar? ›

In the United States, bipolar disorder is a disability. Employers who've fired employees for having bipolar disorder violate the Americans with Disabilities Act and may face a discrimination lawsuit.

Can people with severe mental illness work? ›

Under the ADA, you are protected if: Your mental health condition (if left untreated) interferes with your ability to get things done at home or at work. You can perform the essential functions of a job you have or hope to get, with or without reasonable accommodations (such as a flexible work schedule)

What is the unemployment rate for serious mental illness? ›

About 11.4 million U.S. adults have a serious mental illness — such as schizophrenia, anxiety, major depression and bipolar disorder — and up to 90 percent are unemployed.

What jobs can people with schizophrenia get? ›

Some jobs that may be easier for those with schizophrenia are:
  • freelance writing or graphic design.
  • work-from-home data entry or accounting.
  • work-from-home website building or coding.
  • janitorial, maintenance, or landscaping services.
Jan 27, 2023

What is the employment rate of people with severe mental illness? ›

People with a mental disorder are typically twice as likely to be unemployed as people with no such disorder. more often than other workers (32% versus 19%), and if they are, they are away for longer (6 versus 4.8 days of absence).

What is considered a serious mental illness? ›

SMI includes major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post traumatic stress (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder (VA).

What mental illnesses can you get paid for? ›

Any mental illness that prevents you from working can qualify for disability benefits. Amongst the most common are anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, developmental disorders, autism spectrum disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and schizophrenia spectrum disorders.

What is the most common mental health disability? ›

Of those, the three most common diagnoses are anxiety disorders, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These three conditions make up around 30 percent of all diagnoses of mental illness in America. While they share many of the same qualities, they're also significantly different from one another.

How many people lose their job due to mental illness? ›

15% of unemployed say they aren't working due to mental health problems | Fortune.

Is it hard for schizophrenics to keep a job? ›

Many people with schizophrenia can manage their condition and hold a job. However, depending on the severity of a person's symptoms, schizophrenia may limit their ability to find and maintain gainful employment. People with severe or unmanaged symptoms may find obtaining or keeping a job difficult.

What does high functioning schizophrenia look like? ›

Symptoms of high functioning schizophrenia

These symptoms include those of psychosis, such as: hallucinations. delusions. disorganized thoughts and speech.

Should I tell my employer I have schizophrenia? ›

To receive protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you have to tell your employer that you have a mental illness. If you do talk to your employer, they cannot discriminate against you, including firing you, rejecting you for a job promotion, or forcing you to take leave.

What is the burnout rate for mental health workers? ›

Before this study, another reported a range of 21% to 48% of general mental health workers as having high emotional exhaustion.

Who has the highest salaries in mental health? ›

Top 5 Highest-Paying Psychology Careers
  • Industrial-Organizational Psychologist. ...
  • Clinical and Counseling Psychologists. ...
  • Forensic Psychologist. ...
  • Military Psychologist. ...
  • Psychiatrist. ...
  • Start Your Education.

What is the most common mental health disorder in the workplace? ›

They affect our thoughts, feelings, abilities and behaviours. Depression and anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses.


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