Looking for work can be one of the toughest waiting periods to go through. You can often spend days, weeks or even months waiting for someone to respond only to learn that you’ve been unsuccessful. While of all this is completely normal in the world of job seeking, for many of us, it can have a major impact on our mental health.
One of the most important things to do during this process is to stay positive. It can be hard trying to find things to do while waiting to hear back from employers. Having something to do that gets you out of the house, into contact with people, and takes your mind off job hunting is often the best way to reduce anxiety around waiting. It can be anything as long it is something you like doing and makes you feel better afterwards. Things like:
• Looking after a pet
• Physical exercise (especially team sports)
• Cooking or baking
Volunteering can also be a valuable way to keep busy while gaining some extra skills and being out in the community. Plus, volunteering looks great on resumes and can be something you talk about during your interview. You can find volunteering opportunities on our website – https://www.salvationarmy.org.au/get-involved/volunteer-with-us/
Employers are allowed to ask about your mental health. However, it must only be for “legitimate reasons” (i.e. it is crucial for the role). This means that an employer can’t ask questions about your mental health if there is no good reason for it. If you feel like your mental health isn’t closely related to the role you can ask the employer why they are asking. Although this might feel confrontational it gives the employer a chance to explain the role better. They may in fact be a valid reason for asking. If not, you will have given the employer a gentle reminder about inappropriate questions.
Not sure whether to disclose your condition to an employer? Some people feel that telling a potential employer about their mental health condition can put them at a disadvantage. It is illegal to discriminate against someone for having a mental illness as it would be difficult to prove that it was the reason you weren’t hired. Be up front where you feel appropriate and if you would need an employer to accommodate your needs on the job, it would be worth telling them up front to make expectations clear. For instance, you might require days off to speak with your counsellor or because of your mental illness would benefit from starting later some days. It would be impossible to discuss this or find ways to work around your illness without disclosing to your employer.
1 in 5 Australians aged between 16 and 85 suffer from some form of mental illness. Access to treatment is essential as approximately 75% of people admitted to public sector mental health inpatient services improve notably. (Department of Health and Ageing, 2013.) A medical professional such as your GP, a counsellor, or a psychiatrist can help you to understand yourself better and why you might be feeling the way you do. They are in the best position to help you recover from and manage your mental illness. If you are registered with an employment provider such as Employment Plus you are able to access Allied Health services.