Mental Health + Unemployment: Why We Can't Keep Jobs


Hi, my name is Leif E. Greenz and I struggle with chronic unemployment because of my complex PTSD.
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Today is Toolbox Tuesday, but the truth is that I don’t have many solutions for the problem of unemployment amongst people with psych diagnoses. Instead, we’ll talk about the factors that can complicate employment when you’re struggling with mental health and ways in which employers have failed us.

This was a hard video for me to make, as it’s a very sensitive and shameful topic that I’ve been dealing with for over a decade. Please feel free to share your own experiences with employment (or lack thereof) in the comments.

Always remember that you’re not alone. Upwards of 80% of “mentally ill” people are unemployed. That’s a huge problem! Let’s sit down and chat about why and how this happens.

Leif E. Greenz

Instagram: @leifegreenz
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  1. I have an extensive work history. Longest I've held a job is 2 years, and even then I went through my call ins like crazy. I'm bipolar 1 and have ptsd, and have my brother breathing down my neck because it's such a problem. I've tried to get disability, but was told since I'm young I can manage. So I continue the "get a job, then leave it in a month" routine.

  2. Can’t you get at least a sign holder job? There are lots of sign holders that suffer from mental illness like schizophrenia and depression. Even do a newspaper route in your neighbourhood. Walmart likes to hire mentally ill people as Door greeters. Also gardening companies will hire mentally ill people to do gardening jobs unsupervised.

  3. I think if I am ever able to get a job and keep it, it will come from volunteering for a non-profit. They will take any help they can get, and get to see my work ethic and how I just need a little accommodation in order to be a good contributor to the organization. Another idea might be to work from home for a customer service company. Cox Communications, Direct TV, and Convergys Corporations offer at-home jobs in customer service and tech support. Yeah, you'd still deal with people on the phone, but you'd be in your home, safe space, and not have to deal with people around you.

  4. Wow man I find this interesting sad part is WE have to figure out how to conceal this because the world simple doesn’t give a cramp…I feel u 100 percent on what your saying though keep up the good work

  5. I just lost my job. Whether I was fired or I quit I can't really decide. The voices told me to leave so I did and when asked if I would go back if given the chance I cut my losses and said no. Why? Idk but I wonder why I listen to the voices sometimes when they don't make sense to me right away. Everything about me was telling me not to go but my body went through the actions of leaving and not looking back. The voices help me get through it but I know I need to provide for myself and for my family. Can anyone tell me what's going on here from a different perspective? I'm a very driven individual and my last job was supposed to be the most promising of them all that I've had but turns out life has other plans for me. I've exaughsted all my options and almost nobody will employ me in my area. I can't be the only person going through this. I mean who wants a job anyway? It's not for everyone but I do want to do something that will earn me income without having to feel like I'm at a job. I have my reasons for leaving my last job but when you have mental illness explaining to yourself or anyone sounds like excuses so I haven't told anyone about my mental illness in relation to me quitting ( deciding not to go back or look back ) but does anyone think I should? The lady that helps me find employment is very nice and my last resort but I feel after this last assignment abandonment, if I don't explain myself well, she may not want to be there for me and help. I want a job but don't know how to keep it so I wouldn't want to put her in that spot all over again. Any insight? From anyone? Thanks for reading!

  6. I just want to paint pictures, be alone but it’s not enough and I’m talented and I’ve advocated for myself my whole life! I don’t know what to do

  7. Omg! Thank you I was just struggling to not get meth and a needle and overdose because I can’t fit in even when I went to art school where I was told, “Natalia, you know it’s ok to pretend to be crazy but to be actually crazy!” I have never been able to be productive in society’s eyes! I did non Sex work and prostitution as well and I’m diagnosed with complex post traumatic stress disorder and borderline and ocd and addiction and right now I feel worthless and I hate myself and I got my Masters I’m Fine Arts but I was fine alone in my studio around no one painting but it’s 2020 so I can paint pictures but here in US it’s seen as doodling so I’m on SSI but I’m sober now but I keep wanting to throw my life away with drugs! I never leave my house. I wish I had you here as a friend! I feel so alone!

  8. I have only one friend, I can't keep a relationship. I isolate and prefer to keep to myself because ppl don't understand me. I am a artist and have a creative mind but no way to make a income. I have been looking into editorial work for authors but I don't know where to start. It's hard and I go to my sunken place cuz the world makes me feel worthless.

  9. I have recently realize my disorders and I have had all those experiences at work and social gatherings. I've been called a weirdo and "different" the classic crazy. It has been very hard and I get overwhelmed with my jobs and I would work them until they boot me out.

  10. Three whole months? I've never lasted that long at any regular job. I used to be a con artist for a living for a long time. That eventually caught up to me & i stopped because i'd get in trouble with the law. I've been on welfare, disability (took me like 7 years & several refusals), really broke, my dad would wire me money to pay my rent (& then use that as emotional blackmail, so i often chose to starve instead… But i always paid my rent in full & on time because i was terrified of getting evicted), etc (i never resorted to sex work, i don't think i would have been able to do it or been in dire enough straits to go there, & i also never used drugs, which i'm thankful for). I am so grateful it is now possible to work from home (i'm now do freelance transcription for $). I quit so many jobs, many that were high-paying, easy, not shitty, including benefits etc that many people can't get & want, i'm the A student type, (got every job i ever applied to, hardly ever a spelling mistake, fully bilingual, super efficient etc)… It just felt like i was wasting my life away. I force myself to make a certain amount of money a week/month to get what i need and want (including a 4-month annual trip to Western Canada where i don't work) & i guess i appreciatw the fact i can make money in my p.j's at 3am & not leave my house for 3 weeks if i don't want to & work 100 hours a week & take 6 months off without losing that job, but sometimes i still feel it's robbing me of time i'd rather spend making zines or art or just living my life. But then i am reminded by the stupid structure of society that 90% of people have to do that job i couldn't hold, 9 to 5, 5 days a week & they only get 2 weeks vacation a year basically from 18 to 65+ & i feel kinda guilty for thinking that. I think i have it pretty good now but i'm 42 & it took a long time. I'm almost 43 years old & if you put all the time i worked a regular job in my life back to back it would be less than 2 years. I guess some people would say "You should be ashamed of yourself" at that. I think i'm still a worthy & valuable "contributing", member of society by who i am & what i put out in the world but it took a lot of support from positive, like-minded people or just people who get me & a lot of time to get to that point 💜 & yeah i'm watching back videos, hope it doesn't bother you to get feedback on "old" videos ☺

  11. i’m 19 and my family and friends don’t understand why i can’t just push through feeling bad and go to work. my cycle is that i quit because i become so embarrassed by my symptoms and inconsistency that i feel like i must be the laughing stock of the whole business n everybody hates me. i feel pathetic and incompetent and that makes it so much harder to drag myself to work everyday.
    i’ll never go to college. i found out recently that even driving to a school to pick up a friend’s kid made my heart rate go up. i felt so scared and i didn’t even go in the building. i could hardly speak. that’s how much fear i have around schools. while i do think college is a scam, it stresses me out that i’ll never get a degree cause i’m not built for regular jobs either, physically or mentally. and sex work did not go well for me.
    but this video made me feel hopeful because i’ve never ever felt like anyone else went through this. that alone has helped so much and given me so much comfort. thank you for sharing 💛

  12. omg , i saw your video and i relate to this SO MUCH ! It feel so good too see that im not alone. I suffer so much because of my depression , anxiety and other trauma . I got sexually abused as a child and it messed my life so much and almost no one no about wath happened to me and i get judged so much…

  13. Hi Leif, I was looking for online work and I came across flirtbucks where you just flirt/chat online and there are many companies that look for travel agents. Its fairly easy to do a travel agent course and they work online as a reservations agent for Cruises or airlines….

  14. I wish I could give you a hug, I'm so sorry!! I haven't been able to hold a job for the last decade because I have PTSD from my husband overdosing on heroin right beside me. By the time I woke up he had been dead for 5 hours. Mental illness is no joke. You are in my thoughts and prayers 🙏❤️❣️

  15. I also have never successfully held down a job. Every job I've ever had I quit because my symptoms were becoming too much. I start to feel trapped, anxious, paranoid and i become introverted, I can't handle the regular 8 hr shift. I'm not good at working under pressure and I don't perform my job as well. It's comforting to know I'm not the only one whose gone through this, because it definitely takes a toll on one's self esteem.

  16. I burn bridges too, Ive had over 7 short term jobs this year… Im fortunate to live with my family but my luck is running out. People at work are super rude, its like people come in to make others feel like shit but its so unnecessary most of the time. The hours are extremely long for some good jobs, or very little pay that you cant even live off. I feel like a loser. Im hoping I stop being like this one day. I suffer from low self esteem and depression. It sucks because i feel like i let everyone down. Social anxiety is real…. Im super sensitive too…

  17. I started as a midwife therefore I was the boss lol. Then as an RN having to keep a schedule along with an" out loud way of nursing that can become loud when advocating for my patients" as time went on the obvious difference of my focus me caring for my patients them gossiping about fruitless stuff and being friends with their Supervisor. At the end of my nursing career I actually was unable to get out of the car for my shift related to workplace bullying. These people really are afraid of any type of unique differences quite honestly they are boring. What I see in your abilities is an educator or and a Lawyer self employed. Me anything college is going to be related to my own business I'm the boss or perhaps a college professor or Persuasive Writing. Currently I just saw your amazing birth story video and I can really see you as a fantastic Mother and partner enjoying pure love. Then perhaps Clementine could spur your talents concerning your knowledge of pregnancy birth breastfeeding. A Doula if you chose to work… My daughter's birth in 1979 was the birth that made me seek my passion and I became a Lay Midwife basically over 300 births at home without complications. Staying rested especially postpartum will be the determination of being over emotional. Please sleep and rest to stay labile with your emotions and remember you are basically a hormone at this point lol and exhaustion is going to happen no matter what. And all new mothers are crying and exhausted the first 8 weeks so normal. We are all so underrated in the workforce. How many crazy people have the guts to deliver babies or in your case breastfeeding is revolutionary and extremely necessary because of the vaccines.

  18. I’m sorry that you’ve never had a job that was understanding. I barely have either except one job, thank the universe for that job 💛. My coworkers are SHOCKINGLY understanding and I’m unbelievably thankful. Sadly it’s a part time job so I had to get a second job which triggers me 🙁 but it’s full time so 🤷🏽‍♀️ which means I’m ALWAYS busy and tired. I’m also trying to start a business and having flashbacks 😅 WHAT A LIFE.

    Anywho I hope that you’re making money on YouTube and that things are good for you and your family! I love your videos! I relate SO MUCH thank you for doing what you do. This is your most important work I believe ✨

  19. Holly hell…..!)😎🤗your fitting into my experience in my life & my psyche to a T lady leiffey!!) 👍🤙🤗🙆‍♀️lol.your a really rad& gorgeous gal &your eyes are stellar~dellica~mazing!!).🤩😉😁😇👍👀💕…sorry 1 word just didnt quiete describe them!!) Lol…wow that sounded super creeper& I not project it at all like that!))..😎🤣🤪🤦‍♀️lmfao!)..well anyways keep up&calm down krazy!!) Haha!) 🤩✌Peace ☮,💖L💕VE,💞😍 &, 😂 L😂L!!)*👍🤟👏🙏🤙✌& G😇D BLESS YOU &YOUR'Z!!!)😁😉🤗👼🙋‍♀️👏✌

  20. Like who tf cares if I’m emotionally unstable, we’re all human and nobody’s perfect…if they continue to discriminate that much longer, I might actually challenge this issue somehow..we are no different than other people who have physical health conditions that can’t perform their jobs as well as they could before yet they can keep and get new jobs no problem, or it hasn’t been a huge issues yet we have to struggle our asses off not only with the debilitating symptoms of Hell daily but all the unfair stigma and invalidation…it’s just not right. Also, some of y’all really need to stop whining about your mild anxiety that comes and goes because of life and bouts of depression here and there because that is not a chronic mental illness. There is a fine line between normal human emotions and chronic mental health conditions, so don’t get it twisted. I’m so sick of my illness being minimized for how shitty it actually is and how it affects every area of my life…I hate how people confuse their normal feelings saying they’re “depressed” bitch you’re just sad..general sadness and depression are two totally different things! Okay I’ll stop now, I went off on a rant my bad


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