One of the biggest challenges for people with schizophrenia is not knowing where to look for a job, or how to land or keep one. It’s even more difficult when you don’t know what your strengths are or the type of work you’re capable of managing. While there are no two cases of schizophrenia alike, this article offers some jobs that may be worth exploring as well as a few to stay clear from.
WHAT IS SCHIZOPHRENIA?
Schizophrenia most often appears in the late teens to early twenties and may have an earlier onset in men than women. When not controlled, schizophrenia can cause hallucinations, delusions, voices in the head, lack of motivation, and trouble concentrating. [source]
Currently, there’s no cure for schizophrenia, but research is leading to newer, safer, and more successful treatments. Treatment of schizophrenia is mainly offered through the use of antipsychotic medications and therapies such as talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and family intervention.
WORST WORK CONDITIONS FOR PEOPLE WITH SCHIZOPHRENIA
Although symptoms of schizophrenia may differ, certain common factors make work conditions unfavorable to most sufferers. Some of the worst work conditions may include:
- Heavy on social skills
- Strict schedules
- High stress
- Fast-paced environments
- Lots of overtime hours
WORST JOBS FOR PEOPLE WITH SCHIZOPHRENIA
Given the unsuitable work conditions described above, here are some jobs people with schizophrenia would be better off avoiding:
Salesperson – Sales can be difficult as there’s lots of pressure to sell and social skills need to be in overdrive.
Fast food restaurant – For some, the pressure of having to interact with many people and function in a quick-moving atmosphere may be difficult to maintain good mental health.
Airline pilot – Airline pilots can have difficult schedules that require extended periods away from home and work long hours that bring on fatigue. They’re also required to take a personality test during the selection process and must pass a medical examination every six months.
Post office worker – Long hours and pressure to perform tasks quickly can trigger symptoms such as paranoid thinking and delusions.
Emergency medical technician (EMT) – Being an EMT means having to contend with stressful situations all the time that can make coping difficult. Plus, it often includes long hours and a difficult work schedule.
HOW TO COPE WITH SCHIZOPHRENIA IN THE WORKPLACE
Medical treatment for schizophrenia sufferers can help you lead a rewarding and productive life. As with all illnesses, some people may do extremely well with minimal treatment while others may continue to be symptomatic and need therapy and support.
With that said, here are a few tips to make your work-life more bearable:
- Stay on your meds – You’ll have an easier time coping with the stress and pressure of day-to-day events when your symptoms are well-controlled. Don’t stop taking your meds without first consulting your doctor, even if you think they’re not working or you feel like you don’t need them any longer.
- Make sure your diet is in check– Before you eat something, make sure you ask yourself, “Should I Eat This“? Try staying away from foods that are very high in sugar, as they can give you a rush of unwanted dopamine.
- Identify your triggers – Consider identifying what conditions provoke a stressful event.
- Get therapy – Regular therapy sessions gives you support in managing any early warning signs of relapse and keeps you in remission. Therapy also offers help with social skills and provides support for life management.
- Look for jobs with supported employment programs – Supported-employment programs can help people with schizophrenia feel more self-sufficient.
- Get family support – Family support is a very important factor for many people living with schizophrenia. It will help maintain your health and well-being and keep you on track.
BEST WORK CONDITIONS FOR PEOPLE WITH SCHIZOPHRENIA
Identifying the sort of things you enjoy and excel at and knowing how your illness may limit your work will help determine the work conditions right for you. In addition, keep in mind the following factors to help maintain success in your area of work:
Low stress – Stress is a big no-no for people suffering with schizophrenia. The lower the amount of stress in a work environment, the more likely you’ll do well at your job.
Flexible hours – It’s important to be realistic with yourself about how your condition may affect your work life. Some issues might be quite obvious. For example, if you’re a night owl, taking a night job may work better for your body clock. Others may find they lack energy, thus finding a job that offers “flexi-time” or working a few days a week may work better.
Minimal social interaction – Some people with schizophrenia find it difficult or don’t enjoy interacting socially with other people. Environments that have little or no social interactions may work well for some.
Easy commute – Having a job that’s not too far away from where you live can ease the stress of your day-to-day anxiety and simplify your life. Also, the ability to work from home could be beneficial if you have trouble being social.
Accommodations-friendly employer – Employers are required by Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) to make reasonable accommodations for people with mental health conditions and other disabilities. Small adjustments such as work schedule, headphones that block out loud noises, or even having a service dog in the workplace can help tremendously with grounding a person so he/she feels more capable at the job.
BEST JOBS FOR PEOPLE WITH SCHIZOPHRENIA
If you suffer from schizophrenia, you may find it helpful to consult a job coach to help you identify specific stressors and target job areas that fit your individual needs. A job coach will discuss your specific strengths and weaknesses, as well as passions and fears.
Above all, it’s important to have a good understanding of your particular qualities and research the job market for a position within your safety zone. To this end, consider drawing up a list of your personal qualities and triggers that bring on symptoms and weigh each job possibility carefully along with your list.
Also, ask yourself if any of the things you’re good at or appreciate could be improved to make you better suited for a job you’d enjoy. If you prefer a particular discipline, you may want to consider vocational training to improve your skills.
With that said, here are some job possibilities for you to explore:
Librarian – Working in a library can be a great job if you want to limit your amount of social interaction. As a librarian, you may be required to find books and other materials, which can help distract you from your thoughts. Other duties may consist of shelving and keeping books in order. This line of work requires a minimal amount of physical exercise, but you do get to move around if you get antsy sitting all day.
Janitorial work – Working as a janitor isn’t too stressful and doesn’t require much social interaction. You may work in an office building or hospital. Some daily duties would include vacuuming or wheeling around a trash can and emptying office workers’ wastebaskets.
Virtual assistant – There are many jobs you can do for companies online working as a virtual assistant. It offers flexibility in work hours and the ability to choose an area of work you’re interested in. Small business owners need help with various tasks such as typing documents, data input, fielding calls, or scheduling appointments.
Data entry clerk – As a data clerk, you may be required to scan papers into a computer and then enter customer information. Other tasks may involve opening mail or input check information. The stress of this job is minimal and the hours may be flexible.
Delivering packages – A package deliverer can be a relatively easy and enjoyable job that’s less likely to stress your triggers than many other professions. Each workday, you’ll get a list of addresses and then be expected to drive to each location to deliver a package. You may be required to get a signature from the receiver. If you enjoy driving and don’t mind a little bit of social interaction, this may be a good fit for you.
Graphic design – If you’re artistic, graphic design can be a wonderful career. You can use your creative strengths to create designs and you may find an employer willing to accommodate your schedule or let you work from home to suit your needs.
Sanitation worker – If you don’t mind having a job that’s somewhat physical, sanitation work may be a good option. It’s a steady, non-sedentary job that often pays well with good benefits.
Crossing guard – If you’re the kind of person who likes to be outdoors, being a crossing guard may be a good fit. Requirements are minimal and the work isn’t particularly stressful. Yes, you’ll be around people, but you won’t have to interact much.
Piano tuner – While it takes some training, working as a piano tuner can be rewarding. What’s nice is you can work independently and keep your own hours. There’s a certain amount of skill involved to keep the piano in tune, but the demands aren’t too stressful.
Survey taker – Of all the ways to earn money online, filling out surveys is one of the easiest. While not necessarily a full-time job, it still can be a nice way to make some extra cash while exploring other job possibilities.
Affiliate marketing – This is my line of work and I love it! As an affiliate marketer, you pick a passion or topic that interests you, promote one or more companies’ products and services related to that topic, and then earn a cut of the sales whenever a customer buys through your affiliate links. It’s a versatile career that offers lots of flexibility with the potential to make good money with focused effort.
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN!
What jobs for people with schizophrenia would you recommend? How have you dealt with schizophrenia in the workplace in the past? Leave your comments below!