Work provides people with more than just an income. Many people associate their identity with their work and employment can increase a person's sense of achievement, satisfaction and self-esteem. Being in employment can help give a structure and purpose to each day. Although not the primary purpose of work, employment allows for social contact with others and for many people is a place where they make friends.
“I did some permitted work recently which has helped me to pay off a credit card. And I feel a lot better…in more control” – Mind focus group participant
Unfortunately people with mental health problems who want to work still sometimes experience stigma and discrimination. Mind's Taking Care of Business campaign has practical advice for both employers and employees about reducing stigma and avoiding workplace discrimination.
Financial issues and employment
Paid work usually gives more financial security, but for some people being in paid work can mean becoming worse off financially due to benefits and other support reducing or stopping. Mind is campaigning about these issues.
If you would like to find out if you would be better off in employment or on benefits then talk to a welfare benefits adviser explaining, if necessary, how your mental health impacts on your ability to work. Your local JobCentre Plus will be able to help.
When considering whether you should try to get a job, you will want to consider the total income you will have. Remember to include:
- Any benefits that you will still receive when working
- Money from friends and family
Benefits can be a useful source of income for many people experiencing mental health problems. The work environment might trigger symptoms or you might be too unwell to carry out the tasks required by a particular role.
If this is the case for you, you may be entitled to access Social Security benefits. The Directgov benefits and financial support website can help you work out what you are entitled to.
The government is changing the way that people are assessed for benefits, and the types of benefit available. Mind is campaigning to ensure that the welfare system supports everyone who needs it. Further information is available on the benefits and welfare reform campaign page.
Welfare benefits advisers can be found at some local Mind associations, Citizen's Advice Bureau, other voluntary and charitable organisations, independent advice centres, local authorities, health services, law centres and housing associations.
Family and friends
Many people get some financial support from friends and, particularly, family. Remember to include this income when you are looking at your financial circumstances.