Employment and Schizophrenia

Employment and Schizophrenia

Research has shown that work brings clear health benefits for people living with schizophrenia, with those in paid employment being over five times more likely to achieve remission of their symptoms.

Although it may seem difficult to get a job, it is possible and there are support and advice available.

Getting a job

If you are thinking about starting work, there are a few things you should take into consideration when weighing up the pros and cons. Working closely with your healthcare provider can help you make the decision that’s right for you, and that fits in with your treatment plan.

Here are some answers to questions you may have if you are thinking about starting work.

Could being at work make a difference to my health?

Research shows that staying out of work for long periods of time could actually lead to poor health, both physical and mental. Choosing to go back to any kind of work can have a range of health benefits and could help prevent you from feeling unwell again.

Jobs that match your skills, and where employers support you, are particularly good for mental health.

Paid work improves:

Employment graphic

You will be more likely to get work by seeking help from a specialist, speak to your healthcare professional for information on employment services that are available in your area. They should be able to advise you on several topics such as talking about your mental health condition with potential employers and work colleagues. They can also help you deal with any anxiety you may have about starting work, as well as concerns about the nature of your condition or previous medical history which may affect your ability to get a job.

It can be difficult to predict exactly when and how symptoms change, but the longer you stay out of work, the harder it will be to start.

You may feel stressed or anxious that returning to paid work will reduce any government benefits you get because you are unemployed, or that you will have to talk about your mental health condition with an employer.

Your health care specialist can help you address these concerns, or recommend someone who can.

If you don’t feel like you are ready to return to paid work, there are other opportunities for you to get out and about. You could consider:

  • Studying
  • Volunteering

If you do want to go back to paid work, you can speak to your healthcare professional to see what employment services or specialists are available in your area. They will help you match your preferences, experiences and strengths to jobs. Many people start by working part-time and that often suits them. Others move into full-time, with or without support.

You can make plans to return to paid work as soon as you want to, you don’t have to wait for your symptoms to get better.

Where do I start?

Looking for a job can be a daunting process, but you are more likely to find work suited to your circumstance with the help of an employment specialist. For further support you can speak to your local employment specialists.

How do I return back to work after some time away?

Having time away from work due to mental health issues is quite common; in many developed countries, 35% to 45% of absence from work are due to mental health problems.

If you are returning to work after some time away, visit your doctor for help and guidance on how to make a smooth transition back into the workplace.

Is there government support and financial help I can apply for?

Visit your local authorities for help and guidance with government and financial support.

Continuing with work

Schizophrenia often develops between the ages of 16 and 30 which are critical years for education or for making career choices.

Paintbrush on palet

As a result, many people living with schizophrenia may not have the chance to obtain training required for skilled work due to their condition. In addition, the degree to which your thinking skills (sometimes referred to as ‘cognitive functions,’ for example, concentration, memory, thoughts, planning skills and abilities to solve problems), are impaired will affect your chances of continuing your education or being able to continue working.

With treatment, usually a combination of antipsychotic medication and psychosocial interventions, your symptoms may be managed to a level that enables you to continue with or return to education or employment.4

There are many people living with schizophrenia who have accomplished a lot of great achievements alongside their schizophrenia and who have gone on to have happy, fulfilled lives.

I have a job, how do I keep it?

Support is available to help ensure you can continue in your work after being diagnosed with schizophrenia. For information and advice on understanding the relationship between your illness and the workplace, your rights as an employee, dealing with stress and how to approach issues arising from your illness and your workplace, contact your local careers advisors.



National Institute for Clinical Excellence. Psychosis and schizophrenia in adults: prevention and management. 2014. CG178.
APA Clinical Guidelines. American Psychiatric Association. Practice Guidelines for the treatment of patients with schizophrenia. 2004.
Hasan et al. World J Biol Psychiatry 2012; 13: 318─378.