Find answers to some of the more frequently asked questions on the Forums.

Forums guidelines

Our guidelines keep the Forums a safe place for people to share and learn information.

Need Help Getting Work

Community Member

Hi BBs,


I am currently in the midst of a major mental health crisis perpetuated by unemployment.


Is there any help out there to support people with invisible disabilities, which mental health unwellness is, in my opinion anyway,  to get back into the workplace?


It is difficult to fit into workplaces, so ideally a job where I can work on my own and plough through allocated tasks. Perhaps a call centre?


If there is any support out there, I would be very grateful to be pointed in the right direction.


Many thank in advance,





11 Replies 11

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear One_More_Day~

Welcome back. To answer your question if you are below a certain age and in receipt of income support due ot a mental condition and can work a certain number of hours each week then you may  be eligible for free employment assistance and ongoing supervision by outside companies. I'm afraid their performance varies.


Unfortunatly  people here on the Forum are unable to recommend any particular firm or organisation.


As for the type of work, call centers by and large do not have a good reputation, being more concerned with output than employee welfare. I think you would be lucky to find one you were comfortable with.


Can I suggest while you are seeking work you do not spend all your time on it. Try to divide your  day, with maybe mornings devoted to applications and interviews, and the rest of the day on other things that take employment worries out of your mind and let you think of and  enjoy other matters.


In the interim have you considered volunteering. The scope is huge, from museums and art galleries to washing up. The people are generally friendlier and voluntary work can lead to other opportunities


It is a pity cannabis is not on the PBS even though its benefits are recognized. Perhaps that will happen in the future. The only other legitimate way I know of receiving the drug without excessive payment is if you take part in a trial


You know you are welcome here anytime



Thank you Croix,


Are call centres that bad? Reality is so disappointing.


I have won awards for volunteering and currently volunteer which saves me, but doesn't pay the mortgage.


I suspect I am too old for the program you mentioned. I have been on Job Seeker for a few months now which is also a life saver.


For the first time, I am applying for jobs and not getting them!!!


Cannabis trials, will look into that. Happy to be a Guinea Pig, might have more success than as a human.


The start of another week.






Eagle Ray
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Dear OMD,


 I have been, and actually still am at the moment, in your position. I have both mental and physical health issues that are invisible. I’m also on Job Seeker but I’m with one of the disability employment agencies. They are more flexible with less stringent requirements than the regular job agencies. They are geared towards assisting people with mental and physical health issues. I’m actually about to apply for the Disability Support Pension as it has become the only realistic option for me. My experience is the disability employment agency can be helpful and it does take some pressure off. I think the quality of the experience is partly affected by the consultant you are allocated who assists you in finding work or rehabilitation options, retraining etc, whatever your needs might be. I’ve had excellent experiences as well as a poor experience in this area. But obviously if you are motivated you can use the greater flexibility the disability employment agency grants you to find a work direction that fits your needs. They may be able to help you get a foot in the door, even via work experience first, into an area that suits you and do some advocacy on your behalf. They can help with an allowance for clothing and shoes for work if required.


However, I would say if you are in the midst of a major mental health crisis you may also wish to apply for a medical exemption with a Centrelink medical certificate form from your GP which can be for up to 3 months. This would give you some respite and chance to take care of your mental health as a priority.


 I have worked in call centres both inbound for a service provider and outbound for a market research company. I can concur somewhat with Croix in that the inbound centre I worked for was later investigated for the way it was treating workers and unfair work conditions. We were expected to ideally get through each call in a target time of 18 seconds! We were a high volume centre providing directory assistance that is now automated. We were intensely performance managed. Employees were rewarded for getting people off the line as fast as possible and effectively penalised for taking the time to help people. It went against my values and after 8 months I quit. We sometimes had emergency calls or something such as an elderly person whose partner had just died and they were in shock. No way in the world was I going to cut them off in 18 seconds. There are obviously many organisations using call centres - insurance companies, banks etc. Some may be better I expect, but in all cases I suspect you are required to meet performance management requirements. You may also have to deal with angry clients but at least you aren’t having to face an angry person face to face. The market research job I did was less stressful. But I did feel like I was interrupting people in the 6-9pm time slot in this job. It was often when they were cooking dinner, getting their kids in the bath etc. So, again, I wasn’t keen on that aspect. But don’t want to put you off as there may be a call centre job that suits you.


Like you I quite like working independently. Even if I’m on the DSP I will be still looking at some work as you can do a bit of work on it and your payment is reduced if you work above a certain amount of hours. I’m looking at some creative self-employment options. There is also the Self Employment Assistance Program if you have a viable business idea.


Those are just some thoughts. But take care of your mental health as a priority.


Very best wishes,


Thank you Eagle Ray and apologies for this delayed response. Your call centre experience is helpful. I did apply for a role but was unsuccessful which may be just as well.


All your advise is greatly appreciated.


I hope you are managing as well.








Dear OMD,


There may be some good call centre jobs out there so please don’t be totally put off by my experience. My guess is they would all require you to reach targets and you would be performance managed to meet those targets, but that some places would give you more autonomy and discretion about how to do your job than others. I think investigating exactly what the job entails, perhaps asking potential employers exactly what’s involved, could be a good way of getting a sense of what it would be like in any particular environment. Plus I know there are online employer review sites which may give you an idea, but these will obviously be subjective too but may be useful if there are many negative reviews for an employer with reasons outlined.


I wish you the very best and I hope you can find a job that really suits you. I know it can be unsettling being in unemployment limbo. I hope you can find some balance too so, as Croix suggested above, your whole time is not consumed by job searching and you can find time to take care of your mental health. Sometimes a break away from work is a chance to re-evaluate and find a direction that really aligns with your well-being.


All the best,


Dear ER et al,


I think I may have schizophrenia. It's in the family and it would explain A LOT! So, for now, I think I need to address that immediately. I believe the treatments can make a big difference, though I've only seen them dumb people down. What a state.


I did work in a call centre once and it was the weirdest experience - talk about herding sheep - apologies any call centre readers out there...still, a job is a job and the ones where you know what needs to be done each day and where you can work alone, are the ones that work best. The last twelve years I've been nursing which had many many bumpy roads (perhaps an undiagnosed condition), which is why I am no longer doing it. Before that I had a creative profession which I loved. I try to get back to it but it's all just so hard and I find the executive function these days just isn't there.


But we are here and sharing these posts. Thank goodness for them. 


There are a lot of substandard practitioners out there concerned more with their golf game and ski trips than genuine patient care, so I hope to find one that can actually help me make a more positive contribution.


Thanks everyone.



Dear OMD,


Yes, finding a good practitioner is so important. I've seen a few specialist over the years for health conditions and they have varied. There are some where you are in and out of there in a few minutes, they haven't answered your questions, they write a script and then they usher you out the door where you have to go to reception and pay a large sum of money without having really experienced any real help or engagement. Then there are those who really listen to you and are genuinely engaged in a process of helping you problem solve whatever you are dealing with. You really want to find someone in the latter category. I have changed specialists for a condition I have when the first one was dismissive and disengaged.


With regard to schizophrenia I saw a wonderful TED talk a number of years ago by Dr Eleanor Longden who was diagnosed with it but has recovered now and become a research psychologist in the field. It is a very inspiring talk but it does include her rather harrowing experiences when she first tried to engage help from her GP and the subsequent experience she had in the mental health system. So I hesitate a bit to recommend it in that I wouldn't want to worry you about seeking assistance, but it is ultimately encouraging and inspiring. The talk is from 2013 and her experiences with diagnosis would have been some time before that. I think understanding of schizophrenia has increased a lot since then. Also, I think what she now understands herself to have experienced is a form of psychosis brought on by past trauma. Just remembering the talk led me to look up her work and I found she is at The Psychosis Research Unit in Manchester, UK. She wrote a commissioned report for the NDIS here in Australia and contributed to a landmark report called Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia.


Anyway, I just thought I'd mention that in case it's of interest. I hope you can get a referral to a good practitioner who can work with you to find out what is happening for you and has some helpful treatment approaches. You sound like a really caring person wanting to make a positive contribution. It makes sense to address the mental health issues you are looking at for now and put work on the back burner a bit if you can so you can focus on your well-being. I hope you can enjoy your creativity too, even if it's not currently your profession. I have found creativity such a healing tool which for me has been in the form of music/songwriting and photography.


Take good care and all the best,


Hi EagleRay,


Apologies for late reply and thank you so much for your great contribution. It terrifies me approaching the health system with this, I have seen it first hand from both sides (I was an RN for 12 years - a career change after my divorce), and my brother was diagnosed with schizopherenia in his 20s and seeing his life journey has been heartbreaking.and swore I would keep as far away from it as possible. I suspect my mum is undiagnosed - such is the quality of general practice care in this country. If a patient doesn't tell you what's wrong with them, doctor's haven't got a clue. Makes me so angry - they're really just middlemen between patients and pharmacy. Cynical for good reason. Yet, we need them to access things such as disability services, early release of superannuation on compassionate grounds and any other service or support. I feel ashamed needing to rely on others, government!, to survive. This is certainly an outcome that wasn't on the brochure.


EagleRay, how do you access disability supports? Do you need a diagnosis?





I was wondering do you mean disability supports as in being with a disability employment agency, or applying for the disability support pension?


In my case I am currently with a disability employment agency but on Jobseeker as you are. So this means I don't have the same pressure in applying for jobs as would exist with a regular employment agency but the goal is to try to find work that is doable for me. In my case I have a diagnosis of an autoimmune liver disease which is how I first went down that path, but I'm also diagnosed with complex PTSD, anxiety and depression. I also have a diagnosis of fibromyalgia which started for me 36 years ago when I was 13, so I've had long running physical and mental health issues. But it was the liver disease that gave me some reprieve from the standard employment agency process to begin with. However, I think if you have a diagnosed mental health condition it would likely qualify you for the extra assistance and support you get with a disability employment agency.


Having tried to rehabilitate to get back to work I have not been able to, so I am now in the process of applying for the Disability Support Pension. For that you definitely need a formal diagnosis that is from a specialist if it is a physical health condition or, in the case of mental health, from a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist. It probably helps to have worked with them a bit so they have got to know your story and situation. You could potentially do what I have which is go with a disability employment agency while seeing a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist for a while so they get a full picture of your experiences and mental health issues you are dealing with. From what I've been advised it helps your case to have gone with a disability employment agency for a period of time as it demonstrates to Centrelink that you've made efforts to find work. It's like it ticks a box for them that there are not more options and applying for the DSP is valid.


I totally understand the reticence approaching the medical and mental health systems with regard to mental health issues and seeking a possible diagnosis. I am wondering if researching experienced practitioners in the areas you are concerned with first, before approaching a GP, could be helpful? So if you suspect schizophrenia, maybe look for people with strong knowledge and experience in that area who seem like compassionate practitioners as well. Many psych practices now have websites which discuss a bit about themselves. If you find someone who seems a good fit, you could then ask your GP if you could be referred to them. This is how I found my good psychologist. It worked out better than relying on referrals from the GP, basically doing research and groundwork myself to find someone who was the right fit.


I understand the frustrations with GP medicine. I think if you seek advice from a GP, feel into the situation. Is the person really listening to you? Do they have an amenable approach and seem like they are actually responsive and want to help? If not, it is usually best to keep searching to find a GP who is responsive and genuinely engaged and listening. I've found a good GP now but it's taken a lot of effort. He is friendly and helpful.


I wish you all the best OMD. Remember to advocate for yourself but also seek support. Calling a helpline, such as the BB helpline may be helpful as well just to talk out the situation and help clarify ways to go forward. I also understand the feeling ashamed thing - I have definitely felt that. But there is really nothing to be ashamed about. You have really done your best and your challenges are not your fault. It is really ok to ask for support.


Take care,