Tag Archives: Jobs

J – #AtoZChallenge on Mental Health

Welcome to the letter J post in my #AtoZChallenge on mental health. This is one of the hardest letters – I mistyped it in the theme reveal. I’ve come up with just two words and they’re not very related.

Jobs

Mentally ill people are particularly likely to be unemployed. Like I said when discussing experience, some institutions create special jobs for people with mental illness to work as recovery or experience workers. These are paid jobs not suited for people in long-term inpatient care, although they are very suitable for people who have overcome a long-term institution life. People still in long-term care can become part of a recovery group. This is often seen as volunteer work and earns you around €10,- for two hours a week of attendance.

People who are long-term institution patients of course have to do something during the day. Some of these activities are simple industrial or administrative duties. At my old institution, these were purely seen as day activities and didn’t earn you any momey. At my current institution, patients doing this work earn like €1,- an hour. That’s still only a small percentage of what people in regular employment earn, of course – minimum wage islike €10,-. People doing this type of work often still call it their “job”. People doing creative day activities usually don’t.

Juvenile

Children can get mentally ill too, of course. I recently read that as many as 30% of children in the UK have a diagnosed psychiatric disorder. Now I assume this includes autism and ADHD, which are not always seen as a mental illness. However, among older children and adolescents is also a significant number of sufferers of depression, anxiety and eating disorders. Even among younger children, mental illness can happen. I even heard of psychiatrists specializing in infant and toddler mental health.

Most mental health agencies serve people of all ages, but there are also separate children’s mental health agencies, especially for inpatient treatment. Even those agencies that serve all ages have separate units and treatment teams for children and adolescents. In the Netherlands, after all, child mental health care is regulated by the Youth Act rather than the various laws regulating adult mental health care.

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Jobs for Autistic People #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to day ten in the A to Z Challenge on autism. Today’s post is on employment and jobs for autistic people. I personally do not have a paid job, but many autistic people, even those with co-existing intellectual disabilities, can be successfully employed. They do need to choose jobs that utilize their strengths and their employer needs to be willing to accommodate them.

Already in 1999, Temple Grandin wrote an excellent article on choosing the right job for someone with autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. She explains that autistic and Asperger’s people usually have very poor working memory and cannot multitask. While some people are visual thinkers, like herself, some autistic people are more verbal thinkers, being good at math and/or memorizing facts. In the tables attached to the article, Grandin lists jobs that are bad for autistic people, jobs that are good for visually-thinking autistic people, jobs that are good for verbal thinkers with autism, and jobs that are good for non-verbal or intellectually disabled autistics.

Of course, being able to perform certain tasks does not guarantee being able to get a jbo. In today’s society, increasing demands are placed on social skills and flexibility, precisely the skills which autistics invariably have difficulty with. Many countries, including the Netherlands and the United States, have laws prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of disability. However, a person must prove that they are otherwise qualified for the job and that they are being discriminated against based on their disability.

How many people with autism are employed? This is not precisely known. It is however thought that fewer autistic people are employed than people in most other disability groups. For example, a study cited here says that only 32.5% of young adults with autism spectrum disorders worked for pay. The National Autistic Society in the UK presents an even grimmer statistic: according to them, only 15% of autistic people are employed full-time. Given that the benefits system in the UK is quite strict on people with mental disabilities (and it’s probably worse in the U.S.), 51% of autistic people have spent time without employment or benefits.

The Importance of Day Activities

Over the past week, I’ve been having a hard time of it at my ward. I decided on Sunday that I wanted to leave and go backt o my old city institution. Then over the week, I participated in some day activities on my ward, in the activity building and in the multipurpose room at another adult long-term care ward. This made me realize that at least day activities are much better here than they were in my old institution, and I softened up a bit. I had a talk with my therapist on Thursday, and this made me decide I don’t want to leave for now. This talk contributed to that decision, but the good experience I’d had going to day activities did more.

I’ve heard on some institution wards day activities are not provided, because the clients need to learn to occupy themselves. This, in my opinioon, is the biggest horse manure around. Currently mentally healthy people have a job, too, so why shouldn’t those who are too disabled or ill to have a regular job? Most people here go to some kind of industrial arts type of day activities, so it’s actually real labor. For some, like me, this is not suitable, and they end up doing arts and crafts. This may seem more like a replacement of leisure rather than work, but don’t mentally healthy people have a variety of jobs, too? For some mentally ill people, just getting out of bed is hard work, and simple day activities can provide them with the structure that a job does, too.

There are many benefits of day activites. Some of them, like a daily structure, are applicable to real jobs too. Others, like distraction from one’s mental health problems, are not, but that doesn’t make them any less useful. Becoming mentally healthy, after all, involves more than being able to do a regular job.

I for one find that day activities provide me with meaning to my days, structure, as in a reason to get out of bed, social interaction, distraction, and enjoyment. Day activities are in my opinion more beneficial to my mental health than the psychotherapy I get. This is one reason I’m willing to put up with somewhat unsuitable psychotherapy in exchange for much more suitable day activities.