Affirmative Action for the Mentally IllAfter reviewing most of what I’ve written about my obsessive-compulsive disorder in the last year, I came to the conclusion that vocational rehabilitation systems that succeed in putting recovering mentally ill people back to work are rare. Some would say this is too complicated and costly for the government. I say this is ridiculous.

I have been through many vocational rehabilitation scenarios — job coaches, agencies or programs that send me leads. All of these have led nowhere.

The real problem is finding people who actually care about getting you a job. They are few and far between. Or they don’t want you to get a job that is better than theirs even if your resume is a good one.

Congress sometimes claims that there is legislation in the works for helping the mentally ill find jobs. This is usually not a priority. Some disabled veterans, however, have made inroads at being self-employed or finding work in a system that is geared against them.

I personally have been out of work for many years. What I have realized after considerable effort is that it’s not me, it’s the system failing to perform the way it should that has kept me from simple part-time employment. Funding is obviously an issue. But a simple protection against silent discrimination against the mentally ill is the answer that costs nothing.

The unemployed mentally ill have big holes in their resumes because of the amount of roadblocks that they encounter which make it even harder to find work. I saw an article recently that stated that the mentally ill were hit hardest by the Great Recession.

This is sobering when you think about it. Society should want people to work and be productive members. People who have to deal with long-term unemployment have a number of problems. As everyone affected by the financial crisis knows, dysfunctional behaviors will result as a result of reduced feelings of self-worth and simple boredom.

People who are mentally ill have enough hoops and obstacles to jump through, whether it be choosing the right medication or navigating symptoms. Quality of life comes from productivity, not from a medication. Why shouldn’t there be protections against silent discrimination against mentally ill individuals who are only trying to do the right thing?