Suffer from a mental illness and there may be days when you can’t get out of bed, let alone get to work. But the less days you take off, the better your mental health will be.

Why? Because it takes a great deal of discipline to drag yourself out of bed, force yourself to shower and crawl to work. And discipline is what you need to kick poor mental health.

You’ll also maintain a small sense of control, while staying at home under the doona may eventually leave you feeling hopeless. The fact is, the longer you hide from the ‘real world’ the harder it becomes to return.

Work also offers companionship, whether you want it or not. You’re forced to socialise – and while a conversation may be difficult at least it gets your mind off yourself. Being at work also means your mind has less time to dwell on negative thoughts.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not being unsympathetic. I know from 40-years of experience that mental illness and work aren’t the best of bedfellows. But for me, work could sometimes be a sanctuary – a place that could save me from myself when things got bad. Maybe it could be for you too.

Work gives you meaning and focus which otherwise may be missing from your life. It also makes time pass more quickly, certainly far quicker than being at home.

Instead, you’re surrounded by hundreds of accepted social norms and work rules that dictate how you behave and, unintentionally, prevent you from giving in to your illness.

There’s no doubt it can be hard but as Sir Winston Churchill once said, if you’re going through hell, it’s probably best to keep going.

Like to know more about the benefits of work for your mental health?

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