Of all persons with disabilities, those with a serious mental illness face the highest degree of stigmatization in the workplace, and the greatest barriers to employment. Many and varied employment obstacles face adults with psychiatric disabilities, such as gaps in work history, limited employment experience, lack of confidence, fear and anxiety, workplace discrimination and inflexibility, social stigma and the rigidity of existing income support/benefit programs.
The unemployment rate of persons with serious mental illness reflects these obstacles and has been commonly reported to range from 70-90%, depending on the severity of the disability. These statistics are particularly disturbing in light of the fact that productive work has been identified as a leading component in promoting positive mental health and in paving the way for a rich and fulfilling life in the community.
Access to meaningful, paid work is a basic human right for every citizen, and those who experience serious mental illness should have equal access to the fundamental elements of citizenship which include: housing, education, income and work. This means that each individual has the right to be employed in a mainstream job, rather than being labeled as a client in a training program or a sheltered workshop.
In this section, you will find information and resources on how to find and retain employment if you are struggling with a mental illness.