Mental illness can pose unique challenges to personal and professional development. According to the mental health commission of Canada, psychological health issues are behind the weekly absences of an estimated 500,000 working Canadians (Government of Canada, 2016). Moreover, findings from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (2016) suggest that only 23 per cent of Canadians feel comfortable discussing mental health issues with employers.
While stigma-breaking initiatives have increasingly alerted Canadians to mental health risks, professional development remains difficult for those living with mental illnesses. Life coaches can help in this area, empowering clients with mental illness to achieve long-term professional objectives. Here is a closer look at life coaching for clients living with a mental illness, which considers professional development challenges, confidence-building, and career preparation.
Mental Illness Can Pose Unique Challenges to Professional Development
Workplace stigma still poses challenges to professionals with mental illnesses. Mental health challenges remain a barrier to employment, causing some managers to view candidates unfavourably and causing some applicants to limit themselves for fear of discrimination. Once employment is secured, disclosing a mental illness may still lead to discriminatory behaviours like micromanagement, limited opportunities, and social exclusion (Brohan and Thornicroft, 2010).
These barriers mire the development of willing and qualified professionals. For instance, roughly 85 per cent of Americans with schizophrenia seek jobs, but as many as 70 per cent are unemployed (Hengeveld, 2015). Moreover, a recent survey found that an estimated 85 per cent of Americans with autism were unemployed, compared to a then national rate of 4.5 per cent (Pesce, 2017).
Similar findings are also present in academic settings, with a high-performance culture that proves especially troublesome for students with anxiety, depression, or ADHD. According to a joint report by the Toronto Star and the Ryerson School of Journalism, mental health spending has increased by up to 35 per cent at 15 surveyed colleges and universities (Pang, 2017). At work as in school, mental health factors can make career advancement and long-term objectives seem out of reach.
Life Coaches Can Help Build Confidence in Various Environments
As mental health initiatives continue to reduce stigma around mental illness, life coaching can help struggling professionals build confidence and comfort with career advancement scenarios. A 2014 study showed that professionals with mental illnesses such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), schizophrenia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) benefitted from simulated job interviews, which helped them develop key employment skills (Humm et al., 2014).
Life coaches can help clients with mental illnesses practice interview skills, professional communication techniques, and constructive thought patterns in a non-threatening environment. With training from a leading life coach school, coaches can help their clients set long-term objectives and identify specific hurdles to their professional development. Coaching sessions can help create an even playing field at work or school, developing subject-specific confidence alongside more formal mental health treatments (Pierre, 2017).
Students in Life Coach School Can Prepare to Have an Impact
While looking ahead to a life coach career, students can look forward to joining a growing movement that seeks to reduce stigma and promote greater awareness of mental health. Coaches can prepare to work alongside new initiatives by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (2018), which seeks to improve employer resources and awareness around unique mental health struggles in the workplace. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (2018) also offers important information and resources, updating both employers and employees of best practices for ‘healthy minds @ work’. Together, these initiatives aim to reduce stigma and provide greater opportunity for those living with a mental illness. Life coaches can be a part of this positive change, as they help clients living depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other mental illnesses launch and grow their careers.
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Brohan, E., Thornicroft, G. (2010). “Stigma and discrimination of mental health problems: workplace implications”. Occupational Medicine, 60 (6) (2010): pp. 414-415. Retrieved from: https://academic.oup.com/occmed/article/60/6/414/1390841
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (2018). Mental Health. Retrieved from: http://www.ccohs.ca/topics/wellness/mentalhealth/index.html
Government of Canada (2016). Psychological Health in the Workplace. Retrieved from: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/health-safety/reports/psychological-health.html
Hengeveld, M. (2015). Job Hunting With Schizophrenia. The Atlantic. Retrieved from: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/07/job-hunting-with-schizophrenia/395936/
Humm, L. B. et al. (2014). “Simulated job interview improves skills for adults with serious mental illnesses.” Studies in Health Technology and Informatics, 199 (2014): pp. 50-54. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24875689
Mental Health Commission of Canada (2018). Workplace. Retrieved from: https://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/English/what-we-do/workplace
Pang, W. (2017). Peace of mind: universities see spike in students seeking mental-health help. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/education/peace-of-mind-universities-see-spike-in-students-seeking-mental-health-help/article36637574/
Pesce, N. L. (2017). Most college grads with autism can’t find jobs. This group is fixing that. Moneyish. Retrieved from: https://moneyish.com/heart/most-college-grads-with-autism-cant-find-jobs-this-group-is-fixing-that/
Pierre, J. (2017). How I’m Turning My Depression Recovery Into a Business to Help Others. The Mighty. Retrieved from: https://themighty.com/2017/03/depression-life-coach-business/
Presse Canadienne. (2018). Canada co-founds mental-health initiative on eve of international gathering. Montreal Gazette. Retrieved from: http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/canada-co-founds-mental-health-initiative-on-eve-of-international-gathering
Stuart, H. (2004). “Stigma and Work.” HealthcarePapers, 5 (2) (2004): pp. 110-111. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15829771