Thinking About Work


What if my family member is anxious about failing at the job?

Many of us have anxiety about working, especially in a new job – this is normal. When a person with a significant mental health condition goes to work the anxiety may be greater. S/he may have anxiety about failure to be able to work or concern about disappointing others if the job does not work out. The person may also have other symptoms unrelated to work or aggravated by transitional stress of change at work. Prior to the start of a new job, the person should be reminded by Employment Specialist or family member that there is likely to be anxiety or other “typical” problems. In fact, there should be a plan in place for how to deal with the anxiety when it occurs. (We assume there will be new anxiety.) When the worker has “tools” for dealing with anxiety the job has a better chance of working out. Keep alert for any signs of improvement and it is helpful to focus on what is going right.

One of the strategies for dealing with stress on the job is to build up stress hardiness. For example, your family member can practice brief meditations, mantras or breathing techniques twice a day. This is like building a stress hardiness muscle. Once these practices are a daily occurrence, when a stressor occurs, your family member is better able to deal with it. (Maddi)

When beginning a new job or getting one’s own apartment or trying anything new, your family member might worry, not only fearing failure but might also fearing success. There can be fear that others will expect more (McCrory). Often with support and especially with a wellness plan in place, this crisis will likely pass and the new level of expectation will be achieved.

Workplace Strategies for Mental Health

Provides recommendations from the (Canadian) Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health on how to deal with both personal, relationship, and environmental approaches to making the work environment more supportive and less stressful.


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