People with schizophrenia are eligible for disability but continuing to work can be valuable for some. The best jobs are those with flexibility.

24 million people worldwide live with schizophrenia, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). For many of those people, the mental and physical symptoms of schizophrenia — as well as the social stigma surrounding the condition — can make working a challenge.

But just like anyone living with a disability, with the right support, people with schizophrenia can sometimes continue to work.

So, let’s explore what it means to work when you have schizophrenia, including what jobs are best and how to make sure that you have reasonable accommodations on the job.

Schizophrenia symptoms can affect every part of your daily life — from the way you take care of yourself, to how you interact with others, to your ability to perform your job.

But does this mean that you can’t work if you have schizophrenia? Absolutely not. If you live with schizophrenia and your symptoms are controlled through medication and therapy, having a job can be a positive and rewarding experience. In fact, the right support can help people with schizophrenia continue to find fulfillment at work, according to research.

One study from 2016 explored the impact of a vocational intervention program on work outcomes in people living with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders. According to the researchers, vocational intervention programs can help increase supported employment rates, reduce defeatist beliefs, and improve motivation in working people with schizophrenia.

Another study from 2017 explored the relationship between social competence, symptom severity, and employment in people with schizophrenia. Results of the study found that while symptom severity did have an impact on employment, both social competence and education had a bigger impact on employability in people living with schizophrenia.

When looking for work, you may want to focus on jobs that allow flexibility and encourage you to self-supervise. Some jobs that may be easier for those with schizophrenia are:

  • freelance writing or graphic design
  • work-from-home data entry or accounting
  • work-from-home website building or coding
  • janitorial, maintenance, or landscaping services

While there are many different career options that are suitable for people with schizophrenia, the truth is that there is no “best job” that works for everyone. Instead, it’s best to consider how schizophrenia personally affects you in your daily life and then find a job that works with your strengths and limitations. Consider asking yourself:

  • What type of work do I like to do? And what am I able to do given my cognitive or physical limitations?
  • Which jobs offer support and accommodations in the workplace? And what accommodations can I make for myself when it comes to my job?
  • Are my symptoms fully controlled? If not, which of my symptoms may impact my ability to do my job?

Ultimately, when you have a condition like schizophrenia, it’s important to meet yourself where you’re at — and equally important for those around you to do the same.

People with schizophrenia are not required to disclose their diagnosis to an employer or potential employer. However, disclosure can allow you to take advantage of the accommodations in place for people with disabilities in the workplace.

In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that all businesses with 15 or more employees provide “reasonable accommodations” for employees with physical or mental disabilities. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, examples of reasonable accommodations may include:

  • flexibility within the workplace, for things such as transportation or work location
  • scheduling adjustments, such as offering part-time work or scheduled variations
  • additional sick or vacation time, especially for mental-health-related appointments
  • adequate breaks during the workday for rest, and if necessary, mental health support
  • changes to job duties, like task reduction, additional training, or switching departments
  • other changes, to allow for things such as taking medication, talking with a therapist, etc.

It’s important to note that “reasonable” refers to accommodations that don’t place undue hardship on the business. If your schizophrenia symptoms make it difficult for you to perform your job duties even with accommodations, that may not be the right job for you.

Living with schizophrenia

If you’ve been diagnosed with schizophrenia, there’s support available to help you navigate the journey of treating and managing your condition:

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A disability is any type of mental or physical impairment that makes it difficult for a person to function — cognitively, physically, socially, or otherwise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 26% of adults in the U.S. live with a disability.

Schizophrenia is considered a disability because of the level of impairment it can cause in a person’s daily life. Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders are also qualifying mental disabilities under Social Security, which means that people living with the condition who are unable to work can receive financial support.

What percentage of people with schizophrenia are on disability?

It’s difficult to say exactly how many people living with schizophrenia are on disability, but according to early research on the subject, roughly 80% of people with schizophrenia are receiving disability or some type of financial support.

In addition, people with schizophrenia represent 8% of the tens of millions of adults who currently receive SSI/SSDI payments.

While there’s no law that directly prohibits people with schizophrenia from driving, the symptoms of this condition may make it hard for someone to drive safely.

For example, changes in attention, learning, memory, and motor skills are common in people with schizophrenia, which can affect their ability to drive. And certain medications used to treat schizophrenia — such as haloperidol and risperidone — can also reduce motor function and affect someone’s driving abilities.

If you’re interested in returning to work, but not sure about your ability to transport yourself safely, consider speaking with your doctor about your concerns. They can determine how safe it is for you to drive and provide resources for transportation assistance if needed.

Schizophrenia can cause changes in your mental and physical health, and these changes can affect your ability to function your best. If you’ve been recently diagnosed, it’s normal to wonder how these symptoms and changes will affect your ability to work — or if you can continue to work at all.

However, with the right treatment and the right support, many people living with schizophrenia continue to find enjoyment and fulfillment at work.