Living with schizophrenia: Are your job options restricted? What kind of work can you do?

1 in 100 people live with schizophrenia and many of them are willing and able to work. With the right support, people with schizophrenia can find meaningful work and succeed in the workplace.

At APM we believe everyone has the right to experience the life-changing benefits of working in a safe and supportive workplace.

In this guide, you will find information about:

  • Holding down a job with schizophrenia
  • Schizophrenia job restrictions and challenges
  • Your rights under the Disability Discrimination Act
  • Reasonable accommodations in the workplace
  • Getting support from Disability Employment Services

What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a mental illness which causes someone to have an alternative or distorted view of reality. It is generally a long-term mental illness that develops in early adulthood.

A person with schizophrenia may experience psychotic symptoms such as:

  • Hallucinations – seeing or hearing things that aren't real
  • Delusions – believing that something is true, even though it can be proved otherwise

There are a wide range of other symptoms that a person with schizophrenia might experience and everyone's experience is different.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Confused thinking
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lack of motivation
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Confused speech

Living with schizophrenia can affect a person's thoughts, perceptions and behaviour which may impact them in their personal life and at work.

Does schizophrenia count as a disability?

In Australia, mental health conditions and disorders, including schizophrenia, may be considered a disability if the condition has a significant impact on a person's daily life.

While some people may sometimes temporarily experience psychosis or a psychotic break, Schizophrenia is considered to be a separate, lifelong disability.

If you are living with schizophrenia and finding it difficult to get or keep a job, you may be eligible for Disability Employment Services.

Disability Employment Services is a government funded program which supports people living with injury, illness or disability to find and keep a job.

When you register with Disability Employment Services with APM, we can help you find job opportunities that are right for you. We also provide workplace support as you transition into your new job and ongoing support if you need it.

Find out more about Disability Employment Services and APM's supported conditions.

Can a person with schizophrenia hold a job?

Many people who are living with schizophrenia can work and want to have a job. When their condition is managed well, people with schizophrenia can lead healthy and accomplished work lives.

With the right type of job and a supportive work environment, working can be highly beneficial for people with schizophrenia. Work may give you a sense of purpose, create structure in your life and help you connect with other people in a meaningful way.

If you have experienced stigma in the workplace or felt overlooked by employers, searching for a job can feel discouraging.

At APM, we believe everyone has the right to a safe and discrimination-free workplace. If you need help finding a job or managing in the workplace, we can help.

What are your rights?

In Australia, there are a number of laws which protect people with mental illness from discrimination when they are looking for a job or working for an employer.

The Disability Discrimination Act says that you have the right to not be discriminated against in your workplace.

Your employer is legally required to create a safe and healthy work environment for you and the other employees. That includes making reasonable adjustments to help you perform your job well.

How does schizophrenia affect someone's ability to work?

When it comes to work, everyone has a different experience. Some people with schizophrenia may face challenges at work because of their symptoms.

A person's psychotic symptoms may affect their ability to perform physical work. For example, driving or operating machinery may become dangerous if someone is especially prone to, or during a hallucination.

Some people with schizophrenia may experience catatonia which means they are unable to move normally. This can make it challenging to complete work tasks that require fine motor control.

Schizophrenia may affect someone's mental capacity. For example, they may experience disorganised thinking, difficulty remembering tasks or difficulty concentrating.

Some people may find it difficult in social situations or have trouble managing their emotions. This may make it challenging to work in a team or connect with colleagues.

Workplace adjustments may help you feel more confident in your role

Workplace accommodations are changes in the workplace that can help you do your job well and feel confident in the workplace.

Workplace accommodations might include:

  • Alerting devices and noise cancelling headphones to assist with concentration and focus.
  • Digital organisers, visual planners and scheduled break times to help with time management.
  • Mental health apps, regular breaks and time off for therapy to help with emotional management and stress levels.
  • Service animals, mentors and assistance from colleagues to help if a person is unable to work on their own.

If you are registered for Disability Employment Services with APM, we can help you talk with your employer and get the workplace accommodations you need. Your employer may be eligible for funding from the government to get workplace accommodations.

Find the right job with an APM Employment Consultant

Mental illness symptoms may mean that not all jobs are ideal for you. If you are living with schizophrenia, job restrictions may make it feel challenging to find employment.

Working closely with an Employment Consultant or job coach can help you find job opportunities that are a good fit for you.

When you register with APM, a dedicated Employment Consultant will work closely with you to find out your strengths, skills, limitations and needs when it comes to work. We can also help you with:

  • Finding suitable job opportunities
  • Writing your resume and job applications
  • Preparing for interviews
  • Accessing professional help for mental health issues
  • Getting workplace support in your new job
  • Helping you access suitable workplace adjustments

If you're living with a mental illness and ready to get to work, APM is here for you. Register with us today and let's get started.