The mental health benefits of employment
Unsupportive workplaces, work-related stress and burn-out can all have a negative impact on our mental health. Supportive workplaces can actually boost mental well being and promote a healthy lifestyle.
Experts have found strong evidence that unemployment is connected to poor mental health outcomes.
On the other hand, employment can have significant benefits for a person’s mental health, and may even support recovery for people living with a mental illness.
Here are 6 mental health benefits employment offers:
1. Purpose and meaning
Having a job can give you a sense of purpose and meaning – and a reason to get out of bed every morning.
Some people find their job meaningful because it has a positive impact in the world. Others find meaning by interacting with their colleagues and customers and being part of a team.
Earning money to support your family or save up for future goals can also give you a sense of purpose and satisfaction.
2. Self esteem and confidence
Self esteem – the way we feel about ourselves – has clear links to our overall health and wellbeing.
Working in a safe and supportive environment can help you grow your confidence and build your self esteem.
A job gives you the opportunity to use your skills, learn new things and receive positive feedback from supervisors, colleagues and customers.
Overtime, these can contribute to greater confidence and help you feel ready to take on new challenges.
3. Structure and routine
Having a job can bring structure and routine to your life.
While everyone has different needs when it comes to the ideal level of structure at work, a healthy amount may help you cope better with change and feel more stable through the ups and downs.
Routine and structure can have a particularly positive effect for some mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder.
Doctors often recommend people with bipolar disorder avoid shift work and nighttime hours because of the disruptive effect it can have on mood and stability.
4. Social connection and support
Connecting with other people in a meaningful way is one of the pillars of mental wellbeing.
Whether you work in a large corporation or a small team, having the chance to interact with others can help you feel more connected and included.
Working in a team means others rely on your input which can help with motivation and purpose.
Working with others also gives you the chance to expand your support network and reach out for help when you need it.
Many employers are open to providing accommodations at work so you can look after your mental health and feel supported.
Colleagues can also be a good source of support and understanding for things at work and outside of work.
5. Financial security
Poor mental health and problems with money are often closely linked. It can be hard to feel positive about the future if you’re worrying about having enough money to survive.
Having a job can help you gain more financial security to cover your current costs and save for the future.
Many jobs also come with other benefits such as sick pay, maternity leave and long service leave.
Earning your own money can also help you feel more in control of your life. You’ll have more control over where you live, what you can spend your money on and what you want to achieve in the future.
Having the ability to save some of your money can help you feel more confident and positive about the future, whether you’re aiming to buy a house, go on a holiday or support your loved ones.
6. New skills and growth
Working gives you the chance to apply your current skills, but it also allows you to learn new skills, expand your knowledge and grow.
Research shows that learning is connected with mental well being and is a great way to boost your self-confidence and self-esteem.
Setting goals and working towards them creates positive feelings of accomplishment and achievement – and may help you feel motivated to keep progressing.
Living with a mental health condition and looking for work
We all experience ups and downs with our mental health throughout life, but for people living with a mental health condition symptoms can have a significant impact on their work life.
Managing a mental illness can make it hard to hold down a job and unsupportive workplaces can exacerbate symptoms.
People with mental health conditions may also face barriers when looking for work.
Taking time away from work can be an important part of recovery. In the long run, getting back to work can also contribute to recovery and have a positive impact on your mental well being.
If you’re living with a mental health condition and wanting to get back to work, it’s important to reach out for help if you need it.
Many mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and PTSD, are eligible for government funded disability employment assistance.
You can also check out NDIS eligibility if you’re living with a lifelong mental illness. These services can help you get tailored support to overcome barriers you might be facing when looking for work or managing your condition in the workplace, including accessing funding for workplace accommodations.
Build better mental wellbeing with employment
It’s clear that our working lives affect our mental health. When work is safe and supportive, it offers us a sense of purpose and meaning, connection with our community and greater self-confidence.
Along with self-care, social connection and accessing mental health services, employment can play an important role in building better mental well being.