How Living With Invisible Disabilities Affects Job Seekers

The challenges people with an invisible disability face when looking for work can be significant.

Some disabilities are visible such as people who use a wheelchair or other mobility aid. Other disabilities are more difficult to see, such as someone living with a mental health issue. This is known as an invisible disability, or “hidden” disability.

What is an invisible disability?

An invisible disability is any physical, mental or neurological condition that is not visible from the outside, but which can limit or challenge a person’s movements, senses, or activities. They can include chronic pain or fatigue, brain injury, hearing impairment, or psycho-social issues such as anxiety, autism, bipolar disorder, depression, or learning disabilities.

Like people living with any type of disability, those with invisible disabilities face barriers in their day-to-day lives. But when other people around them cannot see the disability, that can create another barrier – particularly in the workplace.

When a disability cannot be seen, there is a risk that someone with an invisible disability might be misunderstood or wrongly judged as being lazy or incompetent. As a result, someone with an invisible disability may not receive the support they need.

Job hunting with an invisible disability

Any employee – or prospective employee – with a disability, including an invisible disability, is entitled to the same rights as any other person.

When you are looking for work, it is up to you whether you disclose your individual disability. Keep in mind that disclosing may help an employer better understand and accommodate your needs. Accomodations can be as simple as regular breaks, or as flexible as working from home.

Having an open and honest discussion about the barriers you face – and what supports you need to address them – can raise awareness and remove stigma around invisible disability.

If you do disclose your invisible disability and feel you are discriminated against, contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for advice about what you can do.

Is support available for finding work?

Here at AimBig Employment, we advocate for the rights and fair treatment of all individuals, especially those living with a disability. We understand the challenges that people with mental health conditions face in their everyday lives, particularly in seeking employment.

We also know that meaningful and sustainable employment can be a great benefit in managing your mental health. This is why we support people living with a disability find work, support them in the workplace, and are committed to raising awareness of hidden disability.

We know of many employers who are willing to employ people with known mental health conditions. At AimBig we tailor our services to meet individual needs. Our job coaches offer a variety of support services post-placement, including engaging workplaces in disability awareness training and support.

Five ways to manage your mental health at work:

  • Take a screen break and go outside for some fresh air
  • Communicate openly and honestly with your manager about your mental health
  • Try new roles and challenges to stimulate your mind
  • Look after your physical wellbeing, including eating and sleeping well
  • Speak up sooner rather than later if work is having a negative effect on your mental health

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