How is Mental Health Related to Work? (7+ Common Challenges)

In this article, it will be discussed why it might be hard for people dealing with mental illness to keep a job. The article will discuss what mental illnesses are the ones that impact the person’s work-life the most.

Not only that, the article will explain what ways companies and colleagues can help a person with mental health. And what ways they can cope with it so as not to have so many problems in their work life.

Is it harder for people with mental health issues to keep a job?

Yes, it can be hard for a person with mental health issues to keep a job. Depending on the condition they have, it can affect their lives in such ways that maintaining a routine, and efficient work-life, might seem impossible.

Another thing that can impact them is how their treatment is at the moment. If people are experiencing a crisis, like frequent panic attacks, it might be hard for them to be around people and uncontrolled situations. 

Or if they have bipolar disorder, they might go through ups and downs, moments of mania, and hyperactivity, when they can get impulsive, and moments when they get extremely depressed.

That can have an immediate consequence to their work life, it can cause them to make wrong decisions, it can also make it hard for them when in mania, to keep a schedule and routine. 

As for a person with severe depression, they can go through moments of intense lack of energy and loss of purpose, that even getting out of bed might seem hard, which can impact their productivity at work.

Another mental health condition that can cause a person to have problems at work is schizophrenia. People that have that condition can experience a loss of touch with reality. They can become paranoid, not trust their co-workers, and be unfit to keep working.

Although people with several mental illnesses diagnoses can have trouble keeping to a regular work routine, it is important to break the stigma around those conditions, understand that no one chooses to go through such things, and if people are in treatment, it might be possible for them to keep their workflow.

Another thing that might help people with mental health issues to keep their job is having understanding bosses and co-workers that can support and adjust the person’s functions as needed. But let’s take a look at how companies, bosses, and co-workers can understand if a person is in trouble.

How can companies and colleagues figure out if a person has mental health issues?

There are some signs an employer or their colleagues can pay attention to figure out if someone is having mental health issues. The first thing to realize is if the person has shown a change in their appearance.

People that have mental health issues, and that are experiencing a crisis, can stop looking after themselves, which means not taking a shower, or dressing the way they used to. They might also show mood swings, they might show erratic behavior, sometimes agitated, other times more depressed; as they will withdraw from social situations.

When a person is going through mental health problems, they can also get more irritated, and show how frustrated they feel about things that are happening, as well as how angry it makes them feel. Not only that, a person struggling with mental health issues might need a lot of time off work, it can be that they ask their bosses for time off.

Or it might be that they start getting sick, maybe experience pains and headaches that will cause them to not be able to have a good frequency at work. They will also start showing changes in their eating and sleeping patterns and might present moments of confusion or difficulty in dealing with problems.

An employee can also start to show signs of constant worry or unnecessary fears. They might become paranoid about co-workers or work-related situations. Their productivity may decrease, it could be because of the change in their eating or sleeping patterns because they are worried or tired, but it will impact how they work.

Being aware of those signs can help the companies and co-workers identify a person that might be struggling with mental health issues, and once they notice that, they can have an honest talk with the person, and if they are open, maybe get in touch with the human resources department of the company. 

And if the person is comfortable with exposing that situation, see what are ways the company can help them look and start for treatment. And find ways that the company can help the employee, be it by giving them an alternate work schedule, being that it might be hard for them to wake up early, or adjusting their functions if possible.

What are ways a person with mental health disorder can still have stability in their career?

Although it might seem hard at times, there are some ways a person can try to keep a stable career even if they have a mental health issue. The first thing is to recognize you have a condition, and that might be the hardest part. Understanding that your mind is going through things you can’t control might be extremely hard.

But once you allow yourself to look for help and get diagnosed, you can start a treatment that might make your symptoms less intense. This might take some time, but starting that is putting yourself on a road to feel and get better. 

It might be helpful to have an honest conversation with the human resources and your boss about your condition. This can allow you all to think about what can be done about your workload if there are things that can be adjusted, even functions. 

Since if you are dealing with mental health matters it might be good to stay clear of stressful situations or with work overload. Keep in mind that dealing with mental health is not a constant road, it may have its ups and downs, so having that in the back of your head can help you to not expect too much of yourself through this. 

It might be that the work you had before won’t suit you anymore, for example, a person that worked in a bank, and is diagnosed with anxiety, may find it hard to keep that intense and stressful job. So try to not be so hard on yourself if you discover you need a change.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Do mental health issues make it harder to keep a job?

What are the jobs that cause people to have burnout the most?

Research done in 2019, which still doesn’t consider how the pandemic impacted the job market, showed that hospitality employees are the ones to have the highest rate of burnout, being that 80% of the people that work in that business said they have experienced burnout.

In the second place, comes people that work with manufacturing, from that line of work, 77% of people said they had gone through burnout. In third place came people that work in medical and health care, from this line of work, 76% experienced burnout. Following came people that work with education, with also 76%, and people that work in construction, with 75%.

Do I have to tell my boss if I have a mental health issue?

An employee is not obligated to share, with anyone in their workplace, about their mental health condition. They might only need to disclose that information if they require an adjustment of their functions or maybe become impaired in doing their job.

If that is the case, they might need to talk to human resources and their boss to either get some time off, or change their responsibilities at work, and for that, they might need a report from their doctor. But even if they are doing that, their mental health condition can’t be shared with other employees.

How long do I need to stay off work if I have a mental health condition?

What will define how long you have to stay off work is how much your condition improves with treatment, and how your doctor thinks your line of work can impact your mental health.

It is something that will be discussed frequently with your doctor, but you should stay off for as long as you must re-establish your health. Don’t get too anxious about it, because that can affect your condition, focus on ways to improve your sense of well-being, and you will be back to work soon.

I have a mental health issue and I’m thinking about changing my line of work. What are less stressful careers?

Sometimes changing careers might be a good idea when dealing with mental health issues. It can allow you to have a better work environment and don’t have functions that will trigger your emotions. 

The careers that are the least stressful ones are a Data scientist, Dietitian, Medical Records Technician, Massage Therapist, Appliance Repairer, Librarian, Diagnostic Medical Stenographer, University Professor, Hair Stylist, and Compliance Officer.

Can an employee be fired because they have a mental health condition?

Work laws usually change from one country to another, but firing someone because they have a mental health condition is a discriminatory situation, so most countries might not find it legal for a person to be fired because of that.

If that is the situation, the person can look for legal representation and disclose what made them understand they were fired because of a mental health condition. With that, there might be legal consequences to what the company did. 

But it is important to understand that if a person chooses to do this, the company might make public their condition, just as a way to deal with the legal matter. Which some people might not feel comfortable with, so that is something to take under consideration. 

But with companies trying to be more and more inclusive, those kinds of situations might become rarer with time, and maybe companies will be able to understand and support their employees dealing with mental health issues.


This article discussed how mental health matters impact a person’s work life. The article showed it can be hard for people with certain conditions to keep a job, but it also suggested ways that companies and colleagues can help those people.

Aside from that, the article showed what are ways a person with a mental health condition can cope and improve their work life.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to write it in the section below.


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