How the Gig Economy Could Benefit People with Mental Health Problems

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In a 2014 survey, 60 percent of American adults claimed work was a significant source of stress. Everyone’s job can be difficult to handle, but those who already have mental health disorders can have a harder time dealing with the stresses of traditional employment.

Between bosses and coworkers who don’t understand your illness, long stressful commutes, and mounting deadlines you have no control over, the nine-to-five grind can be a huge source of anxiety. 

For this reason, the rise of what we call the “gig economy” is an exciting prospect for many who find that their jobs are not suited to their mental health needs. 

Image via Pixabay

What Is the Gig Economy?

The gig economy is the name given to a series of work opportunities that have arisen in recent years in which you are paid per “gig” or individual piece of work. Examples include being an Uber driver or cycle courier or doing quick jobs through online platforms like TaskRabbit. Something like putting a room up on Airbnb could also be considered gig economy work, although some argue that this is more a feature of the sharing economy.

Because the gig economy is quite recent, the term has not been defined too clearly. It is often used interchangeably with freelance work in general, although some would argue that the two are different. However you define it, the gig economy has great potential for helping those who do not thrive in a structured approach to work, including people with mental health issues.

Image via Pixabay

Benefits of the Gig Economy for Mental Health

The main benefit for many is the flexibility. You can be your own boss and be in control of your schedule without incurring the financial risk of setting up a brick-and-mortar business. This means you can work whenever it suits you and that you are in complete control of your earnings and productivity.

For people with mental health problems, this can be a great way to create a work schedule that fits them and helps them thrive. You can schedule your work around therapy appointments.

You can make more time for crucial self-care, whether it be an exercise routine, a healthy breakfast, or a full eight hours of sleep. You can even take a day off if you need to without having to justify it to a skeptical boss. 

You also have the freedom to choose whatever products or services you want to advertise. This flexibility can lessen anxiety and stress, since you’re able to personalize and customize your business to your liking.

A great way to save on overhead costs and decrease stress even further is by venturing into dropshipping. With this low-risk method, you hire a supplier to handle the inventory for you, and when a customer purchases a product, the supplier ships it to them. You don’t pay for inventory until a purchase is made.

There are many products to consider for your dropshipping business, but you can make the decision easier by brainstorming a variety of products that customers really want to buy.

Image via Pixabay

Managing Yourself

If you intend to make a career out of gig economy or freelance work, you will have to learn discipline. It is not always easy to work when no one is making you do it, especially if your mental health disorder tends to make you feel unmotivated.

You will need to learn to distinguish between a lack of motivation due to depression and a lack of motivation due to laziness, which is not always obvious.

Related: Blues or Depression? Knowing When to Seek Treatment

You will also be in charge of your own deadlines and appointments, so you will need to be organized and reliable to keep things running smoothly. Luckily, there are apps that can help you, such as appointment reminder apps, employee scheduling apps, and the ever incredible Evernote, which helps you organize just about everything. There are thousands of different apps available, so do your research and look for one that offers all the features you’re looking for. 

Additionally, there is the matter of social isolation. People with mental health disorders can have a tendency to feel lonely and isolated, so a job that does not involve co-workers could make this worse.

Freelancers could look into working from a coworking space, while other gig economy workers should make sure they are getting plenty of social interaction from other activities.

According to The Guardian, over 16 million people in the US are engaged in “alternative work arrangements,” which include gig economy roles. This represents a significant portion of the workforce.

While not all of these will have chosen this situation, the scale of this number shows that alternative work styles are offering something which traditional employment cannot.

People with mental health disorders may be one of the biggest groups to potentially benefit from this shift as long as they remain mindful of what works for them and their health. be one of the biggest groups to potentially benefit from this shift as long as they remain mindful of what works for them and their health. 

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