It’s a well-known fact that being in work is important for everyone’s general health and well-being and is used by the government as a way of measuring an individual’s quality of life.
It promotes independence, gives us purpose, provides an income, enhances our social skills, and is a key factor in preventing both physical and mental health problems.
In contrast, unemployment can heighten the risk of developing a mental illness and has been linked to increased rates of depression and suicide as well as a greater reliance on health services.
It’s clear that employment is vital for maintaining good mental wellbeing, reducing psychological difficulty and forms a very important step to recovery. I know it’s really helped me feel better lately, after six months of unemployment last year.
Here are some of the ways returning to work has improved my mental health and become an important part of my recovery journey…
Having a sense of purpose
Since returning to paid employment, my days are much more structured which has been massively beneficial to my mental wellbeing.
I feel like I have purpose and routine to my daily life again which I had not experienced for quite some time. I am once more contributing my skills and experience in a meaningful manner daily, which provides an enormous sense of self-worth and helped to build my confidence massively.
I have always believed that money isn’t everything, however having more of a disposable income has also been a massive benefit to my mental health. It means I can spend more time socialising, pursuing my hobbies and living a comfortable life, reducing financial concerns and treating myself once in a while.
When I was unable to work, I had nothing that gave me a sense of achievement. Yes, I’d do house jobs and go out for a walk or coffee sometimes, but that didn’t give me a boost in confidence like working does. Now when I do something well and my boss or colleagues recognise it, it’s such a great feeling and really makes me feel like I have made a difference and done something well. It’s really motivating.
Working in a great team as I do now, means I have daily interaction with people from various backgrounds and no longer feel as lonely and isolated as I did before. It has also given me the opportunity to discuss my health background with people who understand are totally supportive of my journey to date. It’s been remarkable to be accepted and appreciated for my lived experience, and has done wonders for my self confidence too.
A positive distraction
When you experience mental illness it can unfortunately start to form part of your identity and overtake your character and personality. Working again has shown me I am far more than just my diagnosis; I have skills, I can contribute to society and use my life experiences for good. This is a great distraction from my difficulties and allows me to see a world outside of therapy, medical appointments and medication. It’s like I’m a new person and have lots more to offer the world than just my problems.