Boston University College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College:
Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Boston University College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College:
Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Skills for Job Keeping


What should I do if I see my family member having job-related stress?

You can remind your family member that job-related stress is very common for everyone, especially when starting a new position. You can help your family member to make sure they have a “toolkit” of wellness practices for reducing or preventing stress. This may be something an Employment Specialist or therapist helps to develop or it may be you that helps.

Here are some wellness approaches developed by people in recovery. One commonly used evidence based practice is the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) which is a self-management system. Each person creates a WRAP setting out goals, type of help needed, what helps keep them well, and what puts their mental health at risk. WRAP aims to:

  • Increase the person’s sense of control over their mental health problems
  • Increase personal empowerment
  • Improve quality of life
  • Assist people in achieving their own life goals and dreams

A WRAP will also state how the person wants others to respond when symptoms have made it difficult to continue making decisions safely.

However, keep in mind the family member can also use just a simple practice such as breathing, mantras or meditation. Even these practices may need to be learned – whether from a wellness coach, meditation teacher, a DVD, YouTube video, or an online training.

Be available to talk to your family member about the things that are at the root of the anxiety at work and help to problem-solve if you have that kind of relationship. The ability to manage job-related stress is one of the most important skills in job retention.

Persons with mental health conditions may struggle with a job due to “soft skill” problems (such as social behaviors). ODEP provides a soft skills curriculum for people with disabilities entitled Skills to Pay the Bills which is especially helpful to young people.

How do I help my family member prepare for stress problems on the job?

Before beginning a job it is a good idea for the person to ask ›questions such as:

  • What is likely to make me feel stressed on the job?
  • What are my best (past) techniques for managing stress?
  • What do I do when I feel stressed about something at work?
  • How can I build my stress hardiness so that when “trouble comes my way” I am prepared?

You can help your family member reflect on these questions and think about the answers, maybe keep a journal of what is causing stress and what is helping to relieve stress.

The following three attitudes about stress hardiness can make a difference in whether one can maintain hardiness. Your family member can discuss these attitudes with their Employment Specialist or Job Coach and think of ways to strengthen them:

  1. The Commitment attitude leads people to strive to be involved in ongoing activities and events, rather than feeling isolated.
  2. The Control attitude leads people to work towards outcomes, rather than lapse into powerlessness.
  3. The Challenge attitude views stress related changes, whether positive or negative, as opportunities for new learning. (Maddi)

Return to the main page on helping your family member Keep a Job.

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