2 posts tagged “tips from mental health patients”

Living with a mental health condition? See these helpful pointers for your next job interview

Posted March 19th, 2018 by

Unsure of how to navigate that job interview? You’re not alone. Members have exchanged their experiences and strategies here on PatientsLikeMe — from worrying about how to control nervous twitches to advice about not oversharing. Read on for more info about what you need to disclose to your potential employer, and hear how other members get through their interview jitters.

To disclose or not disclose? Sharing your mental health condition

“I’m damned if I’m open about it, and I’m damned if I try to hide it,” writes a person living with schizo-affective disorder in this Fast Company article. Weighing whether to disclose your condition and risk not getting the job against the stress of hiding a condition while performing a job isn’t easy. But Art Markman, PhD, professor of psychology and marketing at the University of Texas at Austin, offers some guidance:

While you don’t have to disclose your mental health condition during the interview, Markman recommends that you should at some point set up supports at work for success. To get protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you must tell your employer about your condition to get accommodations before there are any issues. This also enables your employer to structure your job in a way that might reduce stress.

Remember to breathe

Shana Burns, contributor to The Mighty advises dealing with anxiety you might have ahead of an interview by focusing on your breath:

“In through the nose, out through the mouth, count to 10 and slow everything right down. You are tingling because you are breathing too quickly, slow it down, and it will stop. This is a temporary feeling. It will not last forever.”

Burns adds, “Remember that you are OK; distract yourself — however you need to distract yourself, do it, and be kind to yourself.”

4 interview tips from PatientsLikeMe members

1. Overdressing is OK, but try not to overshare

“I have a Doctorate degree in Education. …I tend to want to overshare thinking it will make the interviewer realize that I know a lot about the subject or position. Oversharing things about myself frustrates my friends and family but at least they understand why…. I’m just trying to connect, but it is so out of [whack].”

“I have visible tattoos and piercings. I’m willing to remove a piercing while working if I have to. My tattoos are on my wrists…I plan on wearing long sleeves to the interview.”

2. Gaps in your resume? Practice what you want to say about your work history ahead of time

“I guess it’s a fine line between saying too much and just coming off as smart and enthusiastic…I always have too little to say. In my interview on Monday, the first thing they asked was ‘why aren’t you working up to your education?’ That, and gaps of time off due to illness, make a decent resume look suspicious to employers. I stammered something about ‘illness’ but should have been more prepared. Role playing is a good idea, at least for those painful questions. And I just have to keep doing it (ugh)…”

  • Tip: Speaking of preparing for tough questions, The Muse provides some common interview questions and coaching to how to answer them.

3. Show your interest in the company and the job

“Eye contact is very important. Smile. Sell your good points, you have many.”

“Learn a little bit about the company before going into the job interview (“I learned a little bit about the company going into the job. For example, I worked at Victoria’s Secret. So I learned what my favorite part about the company was. You can be a little cheesy and say things like ‘I love that _______ store remembers its audience. It’s a strong quality of this store to have sizes and styles for every shape.'”)

4. Come with questions (even simple ones)

“Have a question or two prepared for when they ask ‘So do have any questions for me?’ That shows that you are truly interested. They can be simple like what is the dress code or roughly how many hours will you work a week.”

What has your job interview experience been like? Do you have any helpful tips to share? Log in or join PatientsLikeMe and jump in the conversation.

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What to Do – and Not Do – When Someone Has a Mental Health Condition

Posted October 17th, 2012 by

Have you ever wondered how best to interact with someone who is living with depression, bipolar disorder or another mental health condition?  Have you worried that you’re saying or doing the wrong things?

Another way to support a friend or family member with a mental health condition is to participate in an awareness walk.  Learn more about the National Association of Mental Illness’s annual walks held around the country.

Last week we recognized Mental Illness Awareness Week on the blog, and to continue our coverage, today we thought we’d share with you some of the tips suggested by our members in a ongoing forum discussion entitled “What NOT to Do with the Mentally Unwell.”

What our members say not to do…

  1. Don’t suggest activities that interrupt their regular sleep schedule.
  2. Don’t imply they are faking just because they “look okay” to you.
  3. Don’t ask if they are taking their meds every time something happens.
  4. Don’t get upset because you can’t fix it – or make it better.
  5. Don’t act like they are “made of glass” and avoid dealing with them.
  6. Don’t push the latest cure-all you saw on TV or read about.
  7. Don’t suggest that they should “snap out of it” because “it could be worse.”
  8. Don’t talk down/louder/slower as if they are a child or have low IQ.
  9. Don’t buy into the stigmas or stereotypes and forget who they really are.
  10. Don’t abandon them just because they are depressed or unwell.

What they suggest you do instead…

  1. Do give them a hug for no reason but because you love them.
  2. Do be gentle with your words and be an anchor amidst the storm.
  3. Do make chicken soup and keep the fridge stocked with favorites.
  4. Do listen and ask questions, and don’t feel like you have to relate.
  5. Do remember that it’s okay if you don’t know what to do or how to help.
  6. Do call or email just to let them know that you are there for them.
  7. Do offer to go on an evening stroll or a walk in the park.
  8. Do allow them to be alone if desired and come to you when ready.
  9. Do know that you don’t have to cheer them up – only help keep them safe.
  10. Do remember they are the same person they always were, just with a diagnosis.

Do you have other suggestions to add?  Or perhaps a different perspective?  Share your insights in the comments section, and if you’re not already a member of PatientsLikeMe, connect with thousands of others like you in our active mental health community.