Overcoming Stigma – Achieving Success

The National Institute of Mental Health defines schizophrenia as a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality. Although schizophrenia is not as common as other mental disorders, the symptoms can be very disabling.

Schizophrenia has a long history of stigma associated with it. It is common for affected families to conceal the illness from relatives, friends and workplace associates. And, stigma may prevent people with the disorder from accessing the type of support they need to manage their illness and lead to feelings of social isolation and loneliness, not to mention discrimination in housing, education and employment.

In reality, many people with schizophrenia are able to live stable and productive lives with the help of regular medication, psychosocial interventions and support. Our client, Martha, is one example.

Martha initially came to LifeWorks NW for employment support. She had been chronically unemployed, but did not think she had an illness. Through a collaborative effort, our team helped Martha, starting with counseling and medication. As her condition stabilized, the Supported Employment team joined the effort to continue Martha’s road to restored wellbeing. And, that resulted in Martha eventually securing a job – one that she has now held for two years.

“I can take care of myself,” Martha expressed. “The main reason I first came to LifeWorks NW was to find a job so I could feel less dependent on others. Now, I feel like I can be successful in my job, while managing my illness.”

Indeed, Martha has achieved great success. In May 2017, she received an outstanding performance review and a pay raise at work. What’s even more exciting for her, she recently was able to travel to Hawaii to visit with her daughter and grandson!

Martha’s story is a testament to our motto, “Life works when you get the support you need.”

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