Myth busters

MYTH: People with a mental health condition cannot work.

FACT: Diagnosis is not important, wanting to work and believing you can is the most important factor. (Source: Bond et al 2000).

Research has demonstrated that there is little relationship between employment outcomes and the individual’s diagnosis. The most important indicator is wanting to work and believing that you can, then having the right support to choose the right job, gain employment, and to stay in work.

CNWL Employment Services can support both the employer and client in ensuring that the return to work is successful.   We can also organise a short work trial to help both the individual and employer work out whether it is the right job.

Our service can also offer the employer mental health awareness training, support with reasonable adjustments if required and follow along support.

MYTH:  I don’t know anyone with mental illness at work.

FACT: Mental illness is more common than cancer, or heart disease. One in every five families is affected in their lifetime by a severe mental illness.  (Source: NAMI)

MYTH: I am concerned about potential violence towards staff.

FACT: Individuals with mental illness are no more likely to be violent than anyone else.  They are in fact more likely to be the victims.

MYTH: Someone experiencing mental health issues is not job-ready. 

FACT: Waiting for all disability-related issues to be under control may mean that the person will never be judged to be ready. Job readiness really happens when the skills, interests, values and needs of a person are matched with the demands of a specific job and the values and needs of a particular employer. (Source: Marrone, Gandolfo, Gold, Hoff, 1998).  In addition being in work helps people to stay well.

MYTH: The stress of working is likely to cause relapses for someone with severe mental illness. 

FACT: Getting a job and a career path provides much more than financial benefit.  People accessing mental health and addiction services consistently report that getting job has transformed their mental health and helps them stay well.

As the CNWL service user quoted below identifies, getting a job has been key to their personal recovery.

“Meeting up with the ES was very good for me, as I recall I had reached a very low point where I did not want to meet with any of my friends, as my situation wasn’t getting any better. Since finding employment I feel like a new person. In ways such as how I think, act and even the way I carry myself..... I can’t stress enough how much better I feel having found work and cannot imagine going back to a world of boredom, loneliness and significant signs of the onset of depression.  I feel that my life has changed in such a great way that I can encourage other people to do the same and find work.  Because it really is worth it, it is a life changing process because it gives you the motivation, the purpose in life to achieve things you couldn’t imagine achieving when you’re alone at home.  And at the end of it, there is a monthly reward of a pay cheque, so that you can treat yourself and others”



Bond et al 2000 Supported Employment, evidence for an evidence based practice.

Marrone, J, Balzell, A, Gold, M (1995). Employment Supports for People with Mental  Illness. Psychiatric Services 46(7), 707-711.

Marrone, J., Gandolfo, C., Gold, M., Hoff, D. (1998). Just Doing It: Helping People with Mental Illness Get Good Jobs. Journal of Applied Rehabilitation Counseling, 29 (1), 37-48.

Marrone, J., Gold, G. (1994). Supported Employment for People with Mental Illness: Myths & Facts. Journal of Rehabilitation, 60 (4), 38-47.

Waghorn, G. & Spowart, C.E. (2010) Managing Personal Information in Supported Employment for People with Mental Illness, in Vocational Rehabilitation and Mental Health (ed. C. Lloyd) Wiley-Blackwell: Oxford 10.1002/9781444319736.ch13

National Alliance on Mentally Illness (


Further information:

Mindful Employer programme

Department of Health Advice for employers on workplace adjustments for mental health conditions

Department of Work and Pensions Employing disabled people and people with health conditions

Department of Work and Pensions Health and work resources for line managers

National Center on Workforce and Disability Myths and Facts about Mental Illness

Time to Change: Support for employers

Contact details:

Address: 180 Kilburn Park Road, London, NW6 5FA
Phone: 020 3317 5132

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