Understanding Schizophrenia In the Workplace

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Schizophrenia and the Workplace In California 

Schizophrenia is a chronic mental health disorder that involves hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking. Schizophrenia in the workplace can be challenging for patients. At any given time, only 10-25% of schizophrenic patients are employed, demonstrating that there may be barriers in place for individuals with this disorder. 

Schizophrenic patients in Dana Point face challenges when applying for work unless their condition is well managed. Some patients with severe symptoms may be unable to maintain employment; however, one in four schizophrenic patients may recover and be able to work. Work may be beneficial to the management of the condition for some patients. Schizophrenia in the workplace is an important topic for Alter Behavioral Health™ as it illustrates how difficult the stigma of mental illness persists among employers and how some conditions truly leave patients with debilitating symptoms. 

Here, we’ll discuss schizophrenia and employment barriers in California and how the Mental Health Discrimination Act may support many patients diagnosed with schizophrenia but can still perform work. At Alter Behavioral Health™, we support patients by advocating for their rights and providing mental healthcare treatment for conditions such as schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. Often, with effective treatment, patients who have schizophrenia can perform many types of work. 

Schizophrenia and Employment Barriers

Employment statistics paint a troubling picture for people with schizophrenia. The 10-25% schizophrenia unemployment rates illustrate that as many as 75% of people with the disorder are unemployed. Of these, how many are unable to work vs. how many are subject to employment discrimination in mental health? While discrimination exists, barriers like self-stigma may also be at play when considering schizophrenia in the workplace.

The mental condition itself poses issues for people who have it. For instance, many people with the disorder find it difficult to sit and focus for long periods of time. People who experience symptoms of disordered thinking can find it difficult to concentrate on tasks that require prolonged mental focus. Schizophrenia can impact:

  • The speed by which an individual processes thoughts
  • The ability to shift tasks with a degree of seamlessness
  • Attention
  • Ability to learn
  • Ability to employ reasoning skills
  • Working and semantic memory
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Judgment and other executive functions

These symptoms relate to disordered thinking, but schizophrenia also involves other mental health symptoms. Delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations can cause someone with the disorder to behave in ways that appear unusual to others or are socially unacceptable in the workplace. 

Schizophrenia in the workplace can be challenging for both people with the disorder and employers. What’s essential to remember is that each person with the disorder is different. Some individuals have symptoms that render them unable to work, but that’s not the case for everyone with schizophrenia. Many people with the condition experience mild symptoms. As many as one in four might not experience any further symptoms after experiencing a few schizophrenia episodes and obtaining treatment for Schizophrenia. These individuals may certainly be able to maintain employment.

Mental Health Discrimination at Work: Real Examples

Examples of mental health discrimination at work demonstrate the difficulty for schizophrenia patients to obtain work in communities like Dana Point, California, and other cities around the country. For instance, some people have been fired because they used sick time to contend with medication side effects. Co-workers have used words like ‘crazy’ when describing coworkers who experience mental illness; using such terms to describe another worker can be construed as harassment. 

Individuals with schizophrenia have been fired for their perceived impact on other workers. They have been passed up for promotion because employers were afraid to give them more responsibility. Mental health discrimination at work is real and challenging, but to break down the stigma and honor the rights of people with mental health disorders, the status quo, the current schizophrenia employment rate, must be challenged. 

Rights of Employees with Schizophrenia in Dana Point, California

People who have mental health disorders have protections in place. Employment rights in California protect the rights of workers who have a mental illness. Moreover, the Americans with Disabilities Act, a federal law, protects individuals with physical and mental health disabilities. Except for small employers (employing under 15 workers), employers cannot discriminate against workers with physical or mental disabilities. 

Workers who have schizophrenia but can perform their jobs with reasonable accommodations cannot be fired. They can also not be passed over during the hiring process because of their condition. Moreover, an employer cannot pay an employee with a mental health disorder like schizophrenia less than other employees based on the presence of the condition. Employment rights in California extend to patients who have schizophrenia as well as other mental health conditions. 

What’s challenging for people with mental health disorders relates to what to do when discrimination occurs — how to prove and report it. Unless solutions are found to support people with schizophrenia in the workplace, California schizophrenia in the workplace statistics will likely remain as they are.

Understanding the Mental Health Discrimination Act

The Mental Health Discrimination Act protects people with mental health disorders like schizophrenia. According to the act’s protections, people with mental health conditions cannot be harassed or discriminated against without penalty in the workplace. These individuals are entitled to confidentiality about their health/mental health and are legally entitled to reasonable accommodations to perform their work and keep their jobs. 

It’s important to note that if a person’s condition makes it difficult to perform their daily work, they are entitled to reasonable legal accommodation. An employer cannot simply fire someone because their condition affects their workplace performance. If a reasonable accommodation can help them perform their work, they are entitled to it.  

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Accommodations for Employees with Schizophrenia

Employers can help employees with schizophrenia perform their work better by making reasonable accommodations. But what are reasonable accommodations? Employees with schizophrenia may benefit from accommodations such as:

  • Written to-do lists/written directions
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Telecommuting or remote working
  • Routine feedback (written or verbal)
  • Flexible break times
  • Reduced workplace distractions or noise
  • Job coach or workplace mentor

These could all be deemed reasonable accommodations for a worker with a mental health disorder like schizophrenia. Employers can help reduce schizophrenia employment barriers by adopting these strategies that support workers with mental health disorders.

Support and Treatment for Schizophrenia in Dana Point

Alter Behavioral Health™ provides high-quality treatment for schizophrenia in Dana Point. If you are searching for a Dana Point schizophrenia treatment center, we invite you to get to know our advanced services which are designed to provide symptom relief and optimum condition management for patients. We also offer family therapy and family psychotherapy to support families of clients with mental health disorders. 

Mental health treatment at an accredited mental health facility staffed by experienced and credentialed mental health professionals is the key to helping someone manage the symptoms of schizophrenia. Symptoms can be so severe that they become debilitating for some individuals. On the other hand, medications and therapy can generally provide tremendous symptom relief that allows patients to participate in daily life activities, including work. 

Alter Behavioral Health™ takes a nuanced, multi-tiered approach to treating schizophrenia. In addition to therapy and medication, we provide education and social support to ensure our patients get the robust support they need to enjoy an improved quality of life. We don’t simply want our patients to get by; we want them to thrive.

Schizophrenia is a serious mental health disorder that disrupts a person’s ability to understand reality. However, it’s important to remember that symptoms can come and go–and remain gone for extended periods of time, especially with treatment. This means that people with schizophrenia who undergo effective treatment may be able to maintain employment and continue working even if some symptoms are present if reasonable employer accommodations are made.

Frequently Asked Questions About Schizophrenia: Workplace Rights & Accommodations in CA

What are some common employment barriers for people with schizophrenia?

People with schizophrenia face employment barriers in California as elsewhere in the country–and the world. Stigma and discrimination are two main barriers to schizophrenia in the workplace. Even though it is illegal to discriminate against or harass people with schizophrenia, it still happens in the workplace. 

People with schizophrenia can also become a barrier if they avoid trying to work. Many employees with the disorder can go long periods of time without condition symptoms, especially when the mental health condition is managed well. However, many people fear working will leave their condition exposed to others. Finally, the condition can make performing some types of work difficult. Focusing or maintaining attention for long periods of time can be difficult for some people with the disorder. High-stress jobs can also trigger symptoms, making it difficult or impossible for some individuals to perform job-related tasks. 

How does the Mental Health Discrimination Act protect employees with schizophrenia?

The Mental Health Discrimination Act protects people with mental health conditions from discrimination. Does that mean discrimination doesn’t occur? It does occur, but workers have legal recourse if they are discriminated against because of their mental illness. Employees with schizophrenia are entitled to confidentiality. For example, employers cannot discuss their mental health status with other employees. Employers cannot fire someone with schizophrenia simply because the individual has schizophrenia, pay them less than other employees in the same position, or deny them a promotion. Employers who discriminate against people with schizophrenia are subject to various penalties, including fines and rescinding of business license 

What accommodations might an employer make for an employee with schizophrenia?

An employer can support workers with schizophrenia by making reasonable accommodations, such as providing written instruction or authorizing a remote work schedule. Flexible scheduling and a work coach can also benefit workers with schizophrenia. 

Are there any examples of mental health discrimination at work?

If a person is fired because their employer finds out they have schizophrenia, the employer is legally in the wrong. Workers harassed by other employees or employers and called “crazy” are affected by discriminatory practices. 

What are the rights of employees with schizophrenia in California?

Workers in California have the right to work even if diagnosed with schizophrenia. Legal protections are in place at the state and federal levels to safeguard the rights of all. There are steep consequences for businesses or employers that discriminate against employees with schizophrenia. 

What support and treatment options are available in Dana Point for people with schizophrenia?

Alter Behavioral Health™ offers treatment for people who have schizophrenia in Dana Point. Our licensed clinicians provide schizophrenia therapy, education, and access to social support. 

What is the employment rate for people with schizophrenia in Dana Point?

People with schizophrenia face an employment rate of 10-25%. It is currently difficult for this population to obtain employment because of their illness. Although not hiring a person with schizophrenia is discriminatory, it continues to happen. 

Where can I find more information about my rights as an employee with schizophrenia?

If you are concerned about your employee rights or want to learn more about schizophrenia in the workplace, contact Alter Behavioral Health™. We can meet with you to discuss our treatment options in detail. We also offer social support for our clients, helping them find resources in the community that will support their recovery or condition management.


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