Work Well are proud to be raising awareness for this year’s National Schizophrenia Awareness Day. It is estimated that just 5% to 15% of people with schizophrenia are in employment. Fortunately, this is set to increase in the coming years as the UK are currently rolling out one of the largest supported employment programs seen in Europe.
This health initiative means it will be easier for those experiencing psychosis or schizophrenia to access support to not only find the right job and employment but to thrive in the workplace.
Medication remains an important part of treating schizophrenia, but this is one of the most challenging aspects of living with the condition. It can be complex to find the right balance of medication as not only are we all different, but the condition affects people in very different ways.
Evidence also shows that employment is an effective part of a recovery journey and understanding your interests, values and the skills you enjoy using gives meaning and purpose to that journey – particularly when employment and career goals are achieved.
See our four tips that can help someone experiencing or recovering from psychosis or schizophrenia thrive in the workplace:
- Understanding your rights at work
A common question often asked is “when do I have to share my health condition with my employer?”. Well, legally, there is no timeframe for anyone to share a health condition with their employer. This is a personal decision. It is worth considering your personal circumstances, for example would you benefit from changes in the workplace to help you do your work better?
The Equality Act 2010 offers protection where the health condition is expected to last 12 months or more and impacts substantially on a person’s daily activities. The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) have more advice on this.
2. Putting together a Wellness Action Plan
Starting work with a new employer can be a worry and for those experiencing schizophrenia this worry can be discouraging. Working through a Wellness Action Plan (WAP) with someone you trust and who knows you well can help. The WAP encourages self-reflection and puts you in control of understanding your personal needs at work. This can be shared with an employer. Mind have a guide to help you put together your own WAP on their website.
3. Find out what works for you
Medication is effective treatment for schizophrenia. It helps to manage the ‘positive symptoms’ of the conditions, such as hallucinations or delusions (unusual beliefs). But ‘negative symptoms’ can be less easy to manage and could include difficulty concentrating, restlessness and anxiety. It is a real commitment to find what works so speaking to your employer and clinician before making any changes can ensure you receive the right support in work. Support could include some short-term adjustments such as starting later in the day or talking a walking-break to ease the restlessness.
4. Good employers retain good workers!
Most UK employers, in the current times, will say recruitment and retention is one of their biggest challenges. Employers are also more aware of how mental health is affecting their staff and, ultimately, their productivity.
It can be difficult for employers and managers to understand what an employee needs so taking the time to listen and asking their employees what they need can help – and a good time to put the WAP to use!
There are lots of resources available for employers now and many employers have mental health strategies and employee assistance programmes. One useful resource is the Mental Health at Work site.
Are you living with schizophrenia and looking for advice on employment, or an employer who wants to support mental health in the workplace? Check if you’re eligible for employment support from Work Well.