Providing Fulfilling Employment For People With Schizophrenia

“Can people with schizophrenia work?” journalist Gina Ryder recently asked on The Answer: Absolutely! The real question is what kind of job works best for individual people.

Meaningful employment is an important aspect of the treatment model originated by Colorado Recovery founder, Richard Warner. “Work is central to the development of self-esteem and in shaping the social role of the mentally ill person,” Dr. Warner wrote in The Environment of Schizophrenia. Finding suitable employment for clients thus becomes an important part of the treatment approach.

“Outpatient clinical services are transitioning from a medical model with an illness focus to a patient-centered model with a holistic emphasis on well-being and functioning,” wrote Cohen, Hamilton, et al. in a 2016 study. “Recovery from serious mental illness has various operational definitions, but there is consensus around definitions that emphasize the ability to live a fulfilling and productive life in spite of symptoms.”

Central to that fulfilling and productive life is the ability to contribute in a meaningful way. “Treatment should include social rehabilitation,” wrote Dr. Warner. “People with schizophrenia usually need help to improve their functioning in the community. This can include training in basic living skills; assistance with a host of day-to-day tasks; and job training, job placement, and work support.”

Gina Ryder provided a list of widely accepted strategies helpful for people with schizophrenia who are trying to fulfill career goals:

  • Staying away from nonprescription drugs, alcohol, stressful situations, and other triggers
  • Reaching out for social support from allies
  • Taking medications as directed (medication compliance)
  • Practicing strategies learned from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Creating a soothing and simplified environment, such as clearing clutter or playing music
  • Engaging in spirituality
  • Focusing on well-being through exercise and diet
  • Continuing education

She then offered three additional strategies that may help people with schizophrenia take action toward their career goals:

  • Explore careers that work for you
  • Maintain routine care
  • Heal from negative past job experiences

These are the main pillars in the vocational program at Colorado Recovery. We offer a variety of vocational services to help clients with bipolar and schizophrenia with their short-term and long-term career goals, including job seeking and retention skills, career exploration, and resume creation.

To stay motivated, it is important to leave previous negative job experiences behind.

“If you’ve experienced past work struggles, such as encountering stereotypes, low performance reviews, or unfair termination, you may have internalized some discouraging beliefs that can keep you from getting back out there,” Ryder wrote.

“Defeatist beliefs and amotivation are prominent obstacles in vocational rehabilitation for people with serious mental illnesses,” wrote Mervis, Fiszdon, et al. in 2016. Defeatist beliefs are often driven by stigma and stereotypes people with mental illness still encounter on an almost daily basis.

At Colorado Recovery, treatment professionals empower their patients by giving them roads to be productive, to help them perceive a positive meaning in life, a sense of belonging and community that can significantly improve treatment outcomes.

People with mental illness can thrive in the work environment if the job is compatible with their condition. As a member of the Employment Alliance that works with the Boulder Independent Business Association, Colorado Recovery works proactively to provide employment to people with psychiatric disabilities.

The vocational workers from the participating mental health agencies provide support to the employer and the newly placed employees. On-site job coaching is provided, when needed, to ensure the success of the placement.

Our treatment facility provides the services needed to address schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other serious mental illnesses which are specific to each individual. Call us at 720-218-4068 to discuss treatment options for you or the person you would like to help.