Accommodation can reduce unemployment

People with mental illness have skills and ‘want to work very badly’
By Shannon Klie
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 08/10/2009

The 20 per cent of Canadians who have, or will experience, a mental illness face many barriers to employment, including gaps in work history, limited employment experience, lack of confidence, fear, anxiety, workplace discrimination and social stigma, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).

These barriers have led to high unemployment rates among this population. The rates vary based on the type and severity of the mental health disability, with studies showing a range from 30 per cent to 80 per cent, said Pam Lahey, a community mental health analyst at CMHA Ontario.

“There’s a lot of misconceptions out there that people with mental illness don’t have the same capacity to work that others do and that perhaps they’re less competent or less skilled,” she said. “All of them, if they want to work and they have the right skills to work, are capable of working if they’re given the right accommodations.”