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What are some ways that people have found helpful for dealing with mental illness in the professional world?

I'm a high school student concerned about how my mental health issues (multiple anxiety disorders) may impact my professional career in the future. I'd love to hear from people who have had experience with this issue. professional careers mental-health depression mental-illness anxiety anxiety-disorders anxiety-management personal-development

Hey there! I am currently living in Seattle as well. Wow, how brave of you to ask... I dealt with multiple mental health issues and was always afraid to reach out for health. I will tell you, if you do not take care of it now it will not get better later. I think it is extremely important to focus on yourself first and then you will be able to do the rest. . If your high school offers counseling, definitely go! My high school offered counseling groups once a week for one period out of the day and it was a great stress-reliever. Khloe G.

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Daniela’s Answer

Hi Uma,

I personally, had some experiences with emotional disorders. When I was 10 I had OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) in studying. I was very worried in the occasion, because the 5 th grade was coming and in Brazil (where I live, because I´m brazilian) this school grade used to be a difficuld grade.

I had an excelent teacher that gave some guidelines to my mom, to take me to a psycologist, and this was very good to me.

In other cases, it´s recommended to visit a psyquiatrist to take some medicine that can help to regulate biological issues such as: sleep, appetite and tireness.

You can read more useful information in my article: "The Impact of Emotional Intelligence at School" on the E-Magazine "Healthy is your Wealthy"

At work

The good news is that mental illnesses are treatable. Early recognition of mental health problems, referrals to the right resources (such as Employee and Family Assistance Plans), and adequate treatment can help people get on the path to recovery and go back to their usual work quickly. Employees can and do reach their full potential when they have the right supports in their life, including those at their workplace. Some mental health problems in the workplace can also be prevented when organizations take steps to create mentally healthy workplaces for all employees.

Telling a supervisor or member of your workplace’s human resources team about a diagnosis of any health problem is called disclosure.

Here are more tips for supporting a co-worker:

Ask how you can help—and respect your co-worker’s wishes.
Continue to include your co-worker in the workplace’s usual activities.
Depending on your relationship, you can still keep in touch with a co-worker who takes time off.
When a co-worker returns to work after time off due to a mental illness, make them feel welcome and appreciated. Saying nothing because you’re worried about saying the wrong thing can make your co-worker feel worse.
Advocate for healthy workplaces. Many wellness strategies are low-cost or no-cost, but they can still improve everyone’s well-being and build inclusive spaces

You can read more and having educational material about it on:

All the Best!

thank you so much! this was really helpful. I am in therapy and on medication but was curious as to how others had navigated the impact of mental illness in their professional lives. Uma D.

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Judith-Ann’s Answer

Uma, This is a very good question to ask, and I'm glad you are asking because many people just suffer in silence because they are afraid to ask for help for various reasons. With that being said, It is also very important for you to realize that I have very little information about your anxiety. Therefore, I will have to answer in a general way. I recommend that you see a licensed mental health therapist to talk about your anxiety, specifically. (Because, really, everyone is different.) Different things help different people. I can tell you generally some things for your consideration.

Generally we know that these things impact a person's anxiety in a positive way: the right therapist, relaxation and meditation, and exercise of the type you enjoy-sports, zumba, gym, etc. Make sure it's something you enjoy so you can sustain it. Some clients have needed the help of specific medications just to be able to add the things that are good for you.
When speaking with a therapist, she will be able to taylor a program more specifically to your own individual challenge. I have had clients that were able to include the things listed above and felt better.

And generally these things can make anxiety worse: caffeine, alcohol, canabis, abusive relationships, unrealistic expectations, or over burdened with finances or homework. I hope this helps. You've taken the first step. Please follow through with a professional, and I'm sure you will feel better. Warmly, Judithann

Thank you! I am actually receiving professional treatment for my mental health issues, but was really looking for suggestions on how to deal with similar issues in a professional context. Uma D.

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Dr. Ray’s Answer

Dear Uma,

I am responding to you primarily as a psychologist who spent thirty plus years dealing with clients' emotional problems, including many with depression and anxiety. It is hard to give you very specific recommendations because I know so little about your anxiety, how severe it is and how it affects you now. I advise you strongly to seek out a mental health professional with whom you can discuss these issues. Anxiety disorders usually respond well to behavioral treatments such as relaxation training, meditation and learning how to cope with whatever situations make you anxious. Street drugs may provide a temporary distraction but usually create a bunch of new problems. I would also be very cautious about taking prescribed anxiety drugs such as Xanax, which can be highly addictive.

Unless your anxiety is severe and persistent I doubt that it will have much effect on your education or career; it is more a question of your own comfort level. My belief is, why feel miserable if you can do something about it?

I wish you the best in dealing with this issue.

Ray Finn, Ph.D.

Thank you so much! I am actually in therapy and on medication for my anxiety, which is quite severe, but it remains a prevalent part of my day-to-day experience. Thanks so much for all the suggestions and help! Uma D.

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Kim’s Answer


It is good that you are thinking about this now!
I do not have mental illness, however, I have other disabilities.
And, in my previous job, often was called in when people with mental illness were causing disturbances (I was a police officer).

It is important to work with your doctors and counselors, and be honest with them. Most of the problems I encountered were caused by people going off their medicines. But I know the medicines have side effects that make people want to stop taking them. So, if this happens to you, be sure to discuss it with your doctors.

I have met many professional people who have mental illness. what you can do, or should not do, again, is something you will know. If certain things trigger you, you will want to avoid them.

However, you can also ask for "reasonable accommodations" in the workplace. To do this, you normally would talk to the Human Resources dept, which will ask you to submit medical documentation. This is all provided for in a law called the Americans with Disabilities Act, or, ADA for short. Ideally, you will deal only with HR, who then will tell your supervisor only WHAT you need, but not why you need it. (for example, I get to wear tennis shoes, and have a special chair). It does not always work this way, and, you may find it helpful to have a coworker or supv who knows what is going on. That is your choice whether or not you tell them.

They cannot discriminate against you for having a disability. You are protected by EEOC laws.

Now, quite honestly, I find that if a person is likeable, things generally go okay. However, I'm not one of the popular people, and I don't really mingle much. I have had problems with my employers. It's not always this way, but just something to watch out for. That's why you don't want to tell them too much. They might use it against you, such as by not considering you for promotion or something, even though they are not supposed to.

Also, when it comes to missing work, there is job protection in the Family Medical Leave Act, or FMLA for short. But it only covers some people. Once you have been employed there for a year, and if the company is big enough, you will have coverage. This allows you up to 12 weeks of time off per year to tend to your own or your family's medical health, including mental health.

Overall, I think you will find that all the focus on diversity and inclusion right now is a good thing, and you will not experience too much trouble. The key is to learn the law, and be prepared for the worst, while hoping for the best. We have to be our own advocates!

Best of luck!

This was incredibly helpful. I did not realize there was a decent amount of legal backup for mental health needs, and I really appreciate you taking the time to detail this for me. Uma D.

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Mason’s Answer

I have adult ADHD, which causes anxiety and depression. The key to being able to contribute in a professional setting while living with the disorder is self-love. Act with compassion for yourself first in all things, and the rest will fall into place. You are not less-than or inadequate because you have different needs than most people. You are not defective. Anxiety tricks us into thinking no one likes us, or everyone thinks we're useless. Remind yourself how far you have come. Review goals that you've accomplished and meditate on the healthy relationships you've cultivated. Count your blessings and loved ones. Utilize the resources your employer makes available to you, be that a behavioral health employee assistance program or your health insurance. Even when you think you don't really need it, stay in regular talk therapy as much as you're able to. Have a treatment plan and stick to it; be an active participant in your mental health treatment. Be deliberate with your time: make time to care for yourself in ways that only you know how. Take a no-responsibility day once or twice a month. Allow yourself time to be vulnerable and weak if you need to. It is all right to feel sorry for yourself, but only in a way that is self-empathetic. If you're prescribed meds, take them exactly as ordered and make note of how they make you feel. Be open and honest with your care team.
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Maria’s Answer

Working with anxiety is something that we all need to address. I feel that there are many people that deal with this as most jobs have deadlines, different point of views, working long hours , having a demanding boss, having a low reward are just a few. For most we have to work to be able to support ourselves and our families so the best thing is to get the anxiety and depression under control. Now we have to deal with all this and endure a pandemic on top of this. We now have less things that we can do to decompress at the end of a long work day but there are still a few things that may be able to help.
Be sure to make time for yourself away from work.
Find things that make you laugh and smile.
Take lunch breaks and share a meal with others outside of your work area.
Go for walks outdoors on your breaks when possible.
Change your scenery to get out of an emotional rut.
Focus on life outside of work such as hobbies and friends.
Reflect on the good things in your job and your life.
Examine what you fear will happen and ask yourself whether it is an irrational fear.

The best advice that I can give it to speak with licensed psychologist for better analysis as they may refer you to a psychiatrist. I hope this helps a little as there are a lot of people that suffer with anxiety in the work place.
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Simeon’s Answer

The corporate world is becoming more open to mental health issues over time. My employer, PwC, offers free mental health resources and has programs encouraging workers to take care of themselves. A key part of the equation is doing research about companies ahead of time to make sure that they are a good fit for you and will be accommodating to your mental health needs.
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cielo’s Answer

I think its helpful when you understand what excerises. like meditate app , like CALM, take a walk or take breaks during the day and listen to music

cielo recommends the following next steps:

dowloan head space or calm app
be honest with your manager if you can
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Rodolfo’s Answer

Don’t ever let your anxiety dictate your future. We all have it. I have it but I keep on going for my kids and dog. Pursue whatever you want. It doesn’t matter. Climb Mt. Everest. Become President of USA. I’m a successful professional and I’m not ashamed to tell people I go to a counselor on a regular basis. It’s called mental hygiene. Sky’s the limit. Just pay it forward someday when you can...
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Alnaya’s Answer

Check to see if your company or future employer has an EAP (Employee Assistance Program). You will typically receive 3 free counseling sessions. Also, your insurance through your employer should be available to counselor, psychologists, and etc.

It is tough dealing with mental illness in the workplace. For me, I know what triggers me so I do my best to avoid being triggered. If your manager/team is trustworthy and understanding, feel free to let them know.