Cover image of Let's Talk Employment guide
Let’s Talk Employment
A Guide for Family Members of Individuals in Mental Health Recovery


Myths and Facts – What Happens When My Family Member Goes to Work?


What Question Should I Ask?

  • What are some common myths and facts about employment? 

What You Should Know

  1. Myth: My family member has a mental health condition, and it is unlikely they will ever be able to work again.
    : Most individuals with mental health conditions who take care of their health/mental health can work. (Sometimes there is some readiness building that is needed).

  3. Myth: Most people with mental health conditions don’t want to work.
    Fact: The majority of people with mental health conditions (about 65%) say that they want to work. With the right information that percentage might be higher!

  5. Myth: If my family member goes to work, they will lose their cash benefits, health benefits, subsidized housing, etc.
    Fact: When your family member: a) is very well-informed about the relationship between employment and benefits; b) takes advantage of work incentives; and c) takes all financial factors into account, they most will likely have a net income greater than their benefits. This is true whether the person continues on some cash benefits or not. Should someone need to leave a job, benefits can be reinstated quickly, if the correct procedures are followed.Securing health benefits, whether through the employer or through public benefits, has a greater chance now than ever before as more Americans have access to health benefits. It is of the utmost importance that your family member have excellent information and support in financial management. Nothing happens automatically in terms of securing income and health benefits, all the correct procedures have to be followed and in the correct time frame.

  7. Myth: When my family member goes to work, he or she will most likely have a relapse or be hospitalized.
    Fact: here is no hard evidence that this is likely to happen. More often the reverse is true, that when someone works in the right job, work promotes recovery. The idea that work causes relapse or increased illness generally is not supported by research. Our colleagues, Joe Marrone and Ed Golowka, wrote in the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal a timeless article entitled: If Work Makes People with Mental Illness Sick, What Do Unemployment, Poverty, and Social Isolation Cause?

  9. Myth: My family member is from another culture and does not have strong English, so they would never be able to find a decent job.
    Fact: Many people who have good work habits, but have cultural challenges can still find good jobs.


Become familiar with the myths and facts, especially as they relate to employment and share with your job seeker/family member. Discuss them together since there may be misinformation that leads to being sidetracked on the road to employment. Try to have facts if you or your family member have to deal with others in the community, who still are clinging to the myths. Take opportunities to have a discussion with other extended family members or clinicians who discourage your family member about working because of the “myths.”