With the right support and training, people living with bipolar disorder can find a meaningful and sustainable job, which suits their strengths.
People living with bipolar disorder will experience an improved quality of life and independence when working because they earn a fair wage, develop and improve their personal and work-related skills, and feel more important and valued as part of society.
While you may think that it will not be easy for you to find work, the key is access to information to help you get there.
Here, we’ve put together the facts about the benefits of employment, and included some examples of jobs that may suit you.
If you’re someone who’s living with bipolar disorder, be confident there’s a job waiting for you and we can help you find it.
What is bipolar disorder?
According to the Black Dog Institute, an Australian medical research institute which investigates mental health, bipolar disorder is a chronic mental health condition with strong changes in mood, energy, focus, activity and ability to function in everyday life. One in 50 (1.8%) adult Australians experience bipolar disorder each year.
People living with bipolar disorder experience episodes of depression and highs, which could show in the following ways:
- Depressive episodes: low mood, feelings of hopelessness, extreme sadness and lack of interest and pleasure in things
- Manic or hypomanic episodes: extremely high mood and activity or agitation, racing thoughts, little need for sleep and rapid speech.
The pattern of mood swings is different for each person living with bipolar disorder and these changes in mood can last a week or more, and affect thoughts and behaviour.
Bipolar disorder and the benefits of work
Disability Employment Services (DES) is the Australian Government’s main disability employment service and helps people living with bipolar disorder find and keep a job. We have over 340 offices and can help people living with bipolar disorder to access the right job with the right employer.
According to Inclusion Australia, there is plenty of evidence about the social and economic benefits when people living with bipolar disorder work.
These benefits include:
- A better quality of life from earning a fair wage
- Feeling more important and valued from developing and applying skills
- More social opportunities and friends
- Greater independence
- Improved physical and mental health
Working with people of all abilities also challenges community assumptions as many people in the community mistakenly think that people living with bipolar disorder can’t work.
What types of jobs are out there?
Reputable DES providers such as atWork Australia have the skills and experience to help people living with bipolar disorder find work.
Any kind of stress related to a job, e.g. loud background noise, any kind of interpersonal conflict, important monthly deadlines or losing an important client, has shown to induce both manic and depressive episodes in people living with bipolar disorder. Therefore, finding a suitable position is very important for people living with bipolar disorder to sustain a healthy and productive working life.
Suitable workplaces could include such which provide people living with bipolar disorder with:
- Consistent responsibilities: People living with bipolar disorder benefit from jobs that entail a stable, well-defined set of duties.
- Calm environments: Sensory overload can cause people living with bipolar disorder an increased level of stress and therefore a more quiet, tranquil environment is recommended.
- Regular daytime hours: Sleep disruptions can have a negative effect impact on people living with bipolar disorder. A position with regular, daytime working hours is advantageous.
- Potential for breaks: To avoid stress levels mounting, taking small breaks to employ effective coping mechanism, such as a walk or taking some deep breaths are beneficial for people living with bipolar disorder.
- Supportive colleagues: People living with bipolar disorder thrive in a strong and supportive company culture.
atWork Australia puts a lot of effort into helping people find and keep the right job. We’ll take into account your individual situation, listen to you, help you focus on your needs and strengths, and set employment goals that are best for you.
For instance, we’ll help you investigate the most stress-free jobs, so you can feel balanced, safe and productive in your job. We collaborate with you and your employer should you wish to have this support and we’ll be there to help you settle in.
Just some of the many roles we can support people living with bipolar disorder to thrive in, include:
- Web Developer: Many web developers perform practical website changes at a reasonable pace. If you find the right position, your career as a developer can be tranquil, consistent, and stable.
- Copywriter or Freelancer: As copywriters, people living with bipolar disorder can benefit from a flexible and adaptable work schedule with time to take mental health breaks as needed. You can work from the comfort of your own home — another significant stress reducer.
- Medical Record Technician: This job suits clients who would like to work in the health care sector but prefer a low-stress segment of this field. Medical Record Technicians keep patient records accurate and up to date for physicians. Their work is typically defined by repetitive processes and performed in a quiet office setting.
- Warehouse worker: A position in a warehouse provides people living with bipolar disorder with autonomy. The challenge, concentration and focus which is required for this role, can keep their mood at a level plateau.
- Librarian: Being a librarian can be very calming for those living with bipolar disorder due to the quiet atmosphere. Job duties include collecting, organising and issuing library resources.
- Massage therapist: This role is perfect for people who are looking for a relatively stress-free role with consistent and clear responsibilities. There is also room for flexibility with start times and locations (e.g. spas, offices or clients’ homes).
How can atWork Australia help?
atWork Australia is a Disability Employment Services provider which supports people living with bipolar disorder to:
- Set your employment goals
- Understand the local job market
- Prepare a great CV
- Find a job – by contacting potential employers for you
- Keep a job – by helping your employer understand what help you need to do the job well
- On the job support
- When you choose atWork Australia as your DES provider, we start delivering the services you need straight away. We work together to meet your goals with a truly individual approach, putting your needs front and centre. We are your Job Coach, your advocate and your partner as we find the right job for you.
atWork Australia offers Disability Employment Services from over 340 locations across Australia, so we’re likely to have a location close to you.
We make sure that signing up with us isn’t a job in itself, and we make things as easy as possible for you throughout your job search journey. We have great flexibility in how we work together, including the ability to meet virtually, to make your job hunt as simple as possible.