Accessibility Page Navigation
Style sheets must be enabled to view this page as it was intended.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness
Work and mental health

What work might be right for you

New working patterns can give you more flexibility and independence.

Explore your options: you may want to develop new skills or even consider a career change.

With the right support, almost anyone with a mental illness can get back to work if they want. The traditional 9-5 routine is becoming less rigid - there are now more choices. New working patterns allow different timing and, often, location of work.

Starting your own business, becoming self-employed or working freelance can also give you more flexibility and independence.

You may also want to improve your skills, gain new skills or explore changing career altogether.


The Rethink website includes information and support for a range of work options including voluntary work, supported employment, part-time and full-time work. It also has links to information sources and organisations that can help in the search for work.

Work and Mental Illness Factsheet

This Rethink factsheet sets out different work options and includes information on the effect that work may have on entitlement to different benefits.

Work Preparation

Work Preparation is a flexible, individually-tailored programme that can help you prepare for the return to work by :-

  • Working out what work will suit you best
  • helping you to get experience at a workplace

The programme is run by Jobcentre Plus Disability Employment Adviser (DEA)

From October 2010, the Work Preparation programme will be combined with WORKSTEP and the Job Introduction Scheme to form Work Choice.


This is a national database of opportunities in voluntary work. These can also be a step on the way to paid employment.

Disability Means Business

This organisation provides self employment advice for disabled entrepreneurs. There are links to sources of advice and also a grants guide.

Working Links

For over 10 years, Working links has provided training and support to help people find worthwhile and steady employment. It can work with you if you have never had a job or if illness has interrupted your progress at work.

Shaw Trust

This is a national charity which supports disabled and disadvantaged people to prepare for work, find jobs and live more independently.


This is a charity that helps disadvantaged people to set up, or expand their own business as a means to achieve financial independence while rebuilding their confidence and self esteem.

Business Link

This is a free business advice and support service, available online and through local advisers provided throughout the UK by the Government.

NIACE - National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (England and Wales)

This charity aims to encourage all adults to engage in learning of all kinds. It runs high profile campaigns such as Adult Learners Week. NIACE’s current work includes initiatives on Mental Health. This area of work is about promoting access to, and success in, learning and skills for people who experience mental health difficulties. This is done primarily through collaborative working with government departments, national agencies and our learning and skills mental health networks.