Over 52.9 million Americans live with some form of mental illness throughout the U.S. That figure equates to nearly one in five adults. Mental health conditions can significantly impact one’s ability to secure and maintain employment, especially while receiving treatment. It can also make it difficult to reenter the workforce due to gaps in your professional timeline.

This guide provides a step-by-step guide to finding employment while receiving treatment for mental illness, including specific resume and cover letter writing tips and example interview questions, as well as tips to stay self-assured and centered as you land your dream job. We also interviewed Dr. Barbara Cox, a psychologist and author with over 20 years of experience in mental health and career coaching. We asked for her advice for individuals who are job hunting and how to lessen the impact  on mental health.

Finding Employment While Receiving Treatment for Mental Illness

The job search can be stressful for any professional, even if they aren’t currently diagnosed with a mental illness. In fact, a lack of fulfillment in one’s career can actively contribute to poor mental health. Although society has become much more open-minded regarding mental health, numerous stigmas are still associated with mental illness. To help you overcome these challenges, we’ve created a step-by-step guide to support you during the job search:

  • Step 1: Define your career path and ideal job type before starting the application process. Take the time to identify your interests and long-term goals.
  • Step 2: Ensure that you have a strong support system before you begin your job search. Put your mental health needs and self-care first.
  • Step 3: Create a compelling resume that captures your most compelling achievements and skill sets in alignment with target job opportunities.
  • Step 4: Build a strong cover letter that is fully customized for the job you’re targeting.
  • Step 5: Complete interview training sessions or practice sample questions to improve your comfort level during the interview phase of the hiring process.
  • Step 6: Begin applying to jobs on national job boards such as LinkedIn and Gettinghired.com. Don’t be discouraged by rejection and remain diligent during the job search.

Step 1: Decide Your Career Path

Before you begin searching for a job, you’ll want to take the time to decide on the right career path. In many cases, toxic work environments and unfulfilling positions can greatly contribute to unhappiness and poor mental health. Think about the type of person you are and where your interests lie at the beginning of the job search.

Do you enjoy analyzing data or working with technology? Do you prefer interacting with people in a sales or customer service environment? Are you more of a creative person who excels in visual art or content writing? Don’t make the mistake of pursuing a career simply due to financial compensation or convenience. You want to make sure that you pursue a career path that is truly fulfilling in the long term.

Below, you’ll find some types of careers to consider based on your professional skill sets and interests:

Creative and Artistic: Content Writer, Graphic Designer, PhotographerArtist, MusicianMarketing Professional, Illustrator, Journalist

Analytical: Data Analyst, Financial Analyst, Accountant, Auditor, Data Scientist, Laboratory Assistant, Scientist, Biologist, Project Manager

Technology-Oriented: Software Engineering, Software Development, Information Technology, UI Developer, Web Developer, Full Stack Developer 

People-Oriented: Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, Event Manager, Teacher, Flight Attendant, Human Resources (HR)

Healthcare-focused: Certified Nursing Assistant, Medical Surgical Nurse, Medical Doctor, Psychologist, Social Worker, Personal Fitness Trainer

Engineering Aptitude: Mechanical Engineer, Carpenter, Electrician, Plumber, Mechanical Technician, Automotive Technician, Construction Worker

Step 2: Maintain a Strong Support Network

It’s important to maintain a strong support network during your job search. Self-care is essential for achieving your career goals, and you won’t find the right opportunity if you neglect your mental health needs. Whether it’s your family, friends, support group, or health care provider, be sure to give yourself the appropriate level of care you need in order to succeed.

According to Dr. Cox: “It may also be helpful to have a job search buddy in addition to your therapist to help overcome any lack of motivation or discouragement that may be triggered by depression or anxiety.”

Step 3: Resume Writing Tips for People With Mental Illness

Creating an accomplishment-driven resume that is tailored toward individual job opportunities is an essential part of the job hunt. One of the difficulties people with mental illness may encounter is explaining gaps in their professional timeline during treatment. If you do have a break in your employment history, you should keep the reader’s focus on your most relevant skill sets and achievements rather than provide an outright explanation. If possible, you should consider including an independent project or volunteer work you may have done during your time away.

Another way to increase your chances of generating interviews is by aligning your resume with each individual posting. Showing prospective employers that you’re fully qualified for the position will significantly increase your chances of landing the interview.

  • Resume Example

Skyler Thompson
(123) 456-7890
[email protected]
123 Pine Brook Dr, Miami, FL 12345


A Content Marketing Professional with four years of experience specializing in copywriting, brand messaging, social media marketing, and content development. Adept at identifying ideal tone and voice to create impactful marketing content that resonates with target audiences.

Professional Experience

Content Marketing Specialist, Atella Marketing Solutions, Miami, FL
June 2018 – February 2022 

  • Coordinated with a team of marketing professionals to craft innovative marketing copy for client businesses, which included defining brand messaging and tone of voice
  • Led the development of content marketing strategy for a boutique boat fitting business, identified opportunities to enhance SEO marketing efforts, which generated a 300% increase in web traffic and achieved a first-page Google ranking
  • Wrote website copy, created marketing brochures and materials, and identified opportunities to improve Google search rankings by optimizing keywords

Independent Projects

Fair Trade Coffee Blog, Miami, FL
March 2022 – Present

  • Provided content marketing services to a non-profit organization focused on growing awareness for fair trade coffee and human rights violations within the industry
  • Conducted research on case studies and relevant current events and wrote 13 blog posts for the organization to draw attention to key issues within international coffee trade


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Marketing
UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI, Miami, FL September 2014 – June 2018

Key Skills

  • Content Marketing
  • Copywriting
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Brand Messaging
  • Strategy Development

Step 4: Cover Letter Writing Tips for People With Mental Illness

The cover letter is an important part of the application process for job seekers with mental illness. This can go a long way in convincing hiring managers to give you the opportunity for an interview. Take the time to research the company before you begin writing your cover letter and be sure to integrate relevant details about its reputation or work culture. This will show prospective employers that you’ve put time and care into your application, increasing your odds of landing the interview.

  • Example

Mina Sayed
Brand Ambassador | [email protected] | (123) 456-7890 | 123 Bedford Avenue, New York, NY 12345

January 1, 2022

Cynthia Roberts
Elevate Wellness Inc.
Hiring Manager
(987) 654-3210
[email protected]

Dear Ms. Roberts,

With over ten years of experience as a brand ambassador within the health and wellness space, I’ve developed an advanced knowledge of strategic selling and relationship building. While working at Vitality Inc., I served as a brand evangelist for a line of nutrition products to aid customers with a variety of vitamin deficiencies and immune system disorders. By developing strategic partnerships with key retail outlets such as Whole Foods, we successfully increased annual sales by over 400%. I am confident that I can provide valuable contributions to your team in the brand ambassador role.

Elevate Wellness Inc.’s reputation for honesty and integrity in its case studies is what draws me to apply for this position. Your ethical business practices strongly align with my passion for delivering health and nutrition products to improve the quality of life for consumers. I believe that I can help your organization to continue to grow based on the following achievements from my career:

  • Served as the brand ambassador for vitamin products generating $3M in annual revenue, which included attending industry trade shows and creating promotional videos to educate customers on product benefits and scientific case studies
  • Developed strategic partnerships with Whole Foods, Walmart, and Wegmans, negotiated deals, and increased annual sales by 400%
  • Identified opportunities to enhance marketing strategies by conducting research on consumer demographics and improving social media presence for products

I hope to speak with you further regarding how my expertise within the health and wellness space can be an asset to your team. Please contact me via phone or email at your earliest convenience. I appreciate your time and consideration.


Mina Sayed

Step 5: Interview Tips for People With Mental Illness

The job search is often more difficult for people with mental illness. According to a study from Rutgers University, of the 11.9 million people diagnosed with serious mental health conditions, 90% were unemployed. The interview portion can be especially stressful for any candidate, so you’ll want to take the time to prepare yourself as you begin the application process. There are many free resources available online. You can also practice sample interview questions with your therapist, family members, or friends.

For more guidance, we’ve provided a list of sample questions and answers you can use to help you prepare for your upcoming interview:

Sample Question #1

Question: What are your greatest strengths? How have you used these attributes to support your teams and organizations in the past?-

Answer: I feel one of my best attributes is my ability to meet and overcome challenges. As a technology professional, I am passionate about finding innovative solutions during software development. During my time with Starlight Software Corp., I played a pivotal role in developing a new product feature that solved a major customer issue regarding data visualization. Our efforts contributed to the largest amount of account growth in the company’s history.

Sample Question #2

Question: What are some of your greatest weaknesses? What strides have you made to improve in these areas?-

Answer: Time management is a weakness I’ve continued to work on throughout my career. When engaged during a project, I am fully committed to putting forth the highest quality deliverables for my team. This has sometimes compromised my ability to multitask. Over time, I’ve developed numerous strategies to help myself maintain my rigorous commitment to quality without falling behind on other tasks.

Sample Question #3

Question: Why do you want to work here? What excites you about our company?-

Answer: Advance Marketing Inc. has a reputation for having an inclusive work culture that empowers employees to be creative. As a marketing professional, I am passionate about delivering innovative content and excited about the opportunity to work in a forward-thinking organization.

Step 6: Begin Applying for Job Openings

Now that you’ve prepared yourself for the job search, you can begin applying for positions on the open market. Gettinghired.com is a strong resource that can help you target forward-thinking organizations with inclusive work cultures. You can also find a number of viable opportunities by searching on LinkedIn. As you begin sending out your resume, you should take the time to research specific companies. Tailoring your cover letter, resume, and interview preparations for individual opportunities will significantly increase your chances of landing the job.

The Job Search Can Impact Mental Health

Statistical data shows that 56% of people experience symptoms of anxiety or depression during their job search. Rejections and lack of responses from hiring managers can cause job seekers to question their merits and self-worth. While dealing with a mental illness, the impact of rejections can be even greater, so you’ll need to prepare yourself for this during the job search. It’s important to understand that while rejection can be disappointing, it’s rarely personal. Many factors contribute to a candidate being rejected for an interview, and you should never consider rejection as a reflection of your qualifications or worth.

When asked about the most important job-hunting tip for people with mental illness, Dr. Cox suggests job seekers “make a doable daily schedule with the help of your therapist or a trusted friend or family member. Devise a reasonable schedule with a set time for job search tasks — do not make job searching open-ended, which can make things overwhelming. Once your job search time is up, move on to another activity.”

Below are some additional job-hunting tips for people with specific mental health issues.

Job Hunting Tips for People with Depression

In addition to continuing treatment for depression, there are different coping mechanisms and lifestyle changes that can help support you during the job search, including:

  • Get appropriate physical exercise and proper nutrition, which positively impacts your overall health and well-being, including sleep patterns.
  • Reach out to a trusted friend or family member every few days to support you during the job search process.
  • Touch base with your therapist if you feel overwhelmed and your current coping mechanisms aren’t working.
  • Have a list of mood-boosting activities available to you to use as needed.

Job Hunting Tips for People with Anxiety

In addition to continuing treatment for anxiety, there are different coping mechanisms and lifestyle changes that can help support you during the job search, including:

  • Practice interviewing with a career counselor, friend, or family member to help improve your comfort level.
  • Integrate stress-reducing activities into your daily routine, including physical exercise, meditation, or deep-breathing exercises.
  • Repeat a helpful stress-reducing phrase each morning or before a job search activity.

Job Hunting Tips for People with ADHD

In addition to continuing treatment for ADHD, there are different coping mechanisms and lifestyle changes that can help support you during the job search, including:

  • Find an organizational system that works for you, a planner, sticky notes, or your phone, and document everything immediately, especially appointments and high-priority tasks.
  • Touch base with your therapist if you feel overwhelmed and your current coping mechanisms aren’t working.
  • Create a set schedule to help support you during the job search and mitigate the risk of being overwhelmed while applying for multiple positions.

Job Hunting Tips for People with Bipolar Disorders

In addition to continuing treatment for Bipolar Disorders, there are different coping mechanisms and lifestyle changes that can help support you during the job search, including:

  • Consider remote work or roles with flexible schedules.
  • Reach out to a trusted friend or family member every few days to support you during the job search process.
  • Touch base with your therapist if you feel overwhelmed and your current coping mechanisms aren’t working.
  • Consider speaking with the HR department to explore accommodations and scheduling, which will enable you to continue regular therapy meetings during employment.

Alternative Employment Options

Mental illness can present several unique challenges that make it difficult to hold down full-time employment during treatment. Although you should never limit your career prospects due to a mental health condition, there are alternative employment opportunities you can pursue if you find yourself struggling. Below, we’ll explore some of these job types and how they can be beneficial as you continue to manage your healthcare needs:

Gig Work, Rideshares, Delivery Jobs

If you find yourself struggling financially during the job search, consider pursuing gig work opportunities, such as DoorDash, GrubHub, Lyft, and Uber. Even if you don’t plan on making this your full-time job, these types of employment offer tremendous scheduling flexibility, which can be very helpful during treatment for a mental health condition.

Remote Work

If you find that your mental illness has greatly impacted your sleep patterns or ability to function with a typical schedule, consider pursuing a remote job with flexible scheduling. The lack of a commute and the comfort of working from your own home may offer the right amount of support you need in order to perform effectively and maintain long-term employment.

Starting a Small Business

If you’re passionate about a type of business, you may consider starting your own. There are benefits to being your own employer and running a business can be highly fulfilling. That being said, there are some risks in starting a small business. Take the time to assess if you’re in a position to manage the stress and financial burdens that come with running a small business.

Continue Your Education

If you were unfulfilled in your previous job, you might consider continuing your education to find a new career path. Consider obtaining a certification to make a lateral move rather than a full career change.

After Employment

After you’ve secured a part-time or full-time job, you’ll need to take proper steps to ensure that you can maintain employment while continuing treatment for a mental illness. It’s important to continue practicing self-care as you reenter the workforce. “Make sure to schedule weekly self-care, therapy, and doctor’s visits as needed,” suggests Dr. Cox. “These things are as important as brushing your teeth and can help keep you energized and motivated.”

You may revert to unhealthy lifestyles and coping strategies if you are overwhelmed. Be sure to continue meeting with your healthcare provider and leaning on your support network to help you overcome work-related stress and personal challenges. Depending on your comfort level with the organization, you may also consider reaching out to your HR department for any accommodations you may need during treatment.

Mental Health Resources

Below is a list of national and state resources for mental illness, including treatment providers, career counseling, job boards, and government programs. Although it may not be easy to overcome a mental health condition and advance your career, with the right support, you can achieve your long-term goals and find the job you deserve.

Mental Health and Employment Resources by State


Mental Health Resources


Mental Health Resources

New Mexico

Mental Health Resources


Mental Health Resources


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