August 26, 2015

By Jacob Bradshaw

A group of young adults at work

The prospect of becoming an adult that can be a bit overwhelming for everyone, but there are certain questions and considerations that are especially important if you have a mental health condition.

How Do You Handle a Job?

Now that you are an adult and are able to start working full-time, it’s important to keep in mind that a job is not worth worsening your condition. Everyone has limits and you should learn yours. The stress that sometimes comes with some jobs can often trigger symptoms.

It is OK to have a job that occasionally causes stress, most jobs do. As long as you have a plan of action or method to manage your stress in a healthy way then your job should not cause your symptoms to worsen.

If you find your stress increasing, here are some ideas to help relieve it:

  • Exercise
  • Hobbies
  • Meditation
  • Breathing exercises

It is important to remember that it is generally against the law for an employer to discriminate against you because of a mental health condition. Also, your employer is required to provide you with certain accommodations, such as modifications or assistive technology, if you require them. If your employer is refusing to provide an accommodative service that you believe is a necessity, there are legal options to consider with federal and anti-discrimination laws.

If you have a complaint, there are three government agencies responsible for enforcing employment laws:

  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is the agency that enforces the ADA in the private sector.
  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Office, which enforces the ADA in the federal government.
  • Many states have Fair Employment Practice Agencies that enforce state laws against employment discrimination.

If you believe your complaints aren’t being listened to, you have the option to take action in the legal system. There are many organizations that represent individuals with mental health conditions who face discrimination, including the National Disability Rights Network and the American Civil Liberties Union.

How Do I Find a Place to Live?

When you become an adult, it may not be possible to continue living at  your parent’s house or where you grew up. Luckily in parts of the country there are many housing options for people who need additional assistive services. These range from supportive housing, where residents are independent but retain access to trained staff in the case of emergencies, to supervised group housing with staff members present and actively providing support day and night.

If you have a low-income, you may qualify for government housing assistance under either the Section 8 or Section 811 housing programs. Section 8 provides both assistance in finding housing as well as rent assistance. Under Section 8, your rent will never exceed 30% of your income. Your state Public Housing Agency should maintain a list of both Section 8 housing and general low-rent public housing opportunities in your area.

Similar to your work environment, you have the right to certain accommodations and modifications where you are living. The Fair Housing Act protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination by landlords and property owners.

How Can I Assume More Responsibility for My Own Healthcare?

Once you reach adulthood, you obtain full legal authority to make decisions regarding your own healthcare—but you aren’t required to leave your parent’s health insurance plan until the age of 26—with a few exceptions. It is important that you maintain access to psychiatric and psychological resources that can provide your ongoing care and treatment. If you are having difficulty coping with the challenges of your mental health condition, it can be helpful to attend support group meetings in your area, such as NAMI Connection.

It is possible and likely that your condition may change as you get older. Sometimes people’s conditions become less intense with age and sometimes they become worse. But as you get older, you gain more knowledge to equip yourself with how to succeed in life.

Submit To The NAMI Blog

We’re always accepting submissions to the NAMI Blog! We feature the latest research, stories of recovery, ways to end stigma and strategies for living well with mental illness. Most importantly: We feature your voices.


NAMI HelpLine is available M-F, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. ET. Call 800-950-6264,
text “helpline” to 62640, or chat online. In a crisis, call or text 988 (24/7).