• Can people who experience mental health illnesses work?

Yes! People with mental illness can and do function well in the workplace. They are unlikely to take more sick leave because of their condition than people with a chronic physical condition such as asthma or diabetes. We might not realise it, but we all probably have many colleagues who have experienced mental health problems. Most people who have a mental illness are still able to work. However, some people may benefit from changes at their workplace to support their goals during a difficult period, even though many people with a mental illness work with few supports from their employer.


  • Are people with mental health illnesses more likely to be dangerous and violent?

The vast majority of people with mental health problems are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. Most people with mental illness are not violent and in fact are unfortunately more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population.


  • Is psychotherapy a waste of time? How can it help a person with a mental health problem?

If a person is committed to therapy and feels that there is a good therapeutic fit with the therapist, talk therapy will not be a waste of time. We all go through experiences in our lives which we may struggle to get through alone. Talk therapy can help a person:


  • Understand their mental health difficulties
  • Identify triggers that may worsen symptoms
  • Create a stable routine
  • Overcome fears or insecurities
  • Make sense of past traumatic experiences
  • Improve relationships with family and friends
  • End destructive habits such as overeating, drinking, overspending or taking drugs
  • Cope with stress by adopting healthy coping strategies


  • Why do some people need medication if they are already going to therapy?

Psychotherapy and medication usually work very well together to treat mental health illnesses. In some case, psychotherapy alone may be enough to treat mental health problems, but this depends very much on the person and the presenting difficulties. For some people, taking medication is short-term and can help them get through a crisis or a difficult period in their life. For others, medication is an ongoing process which enables them to live with persistent mental health illnesses. Choosing the right treatment plan together with a professional, based on a person’s individual needs and medical situation is of utmost importance.


  • Can mental health problems be prevented?

A WHO report states that on a national level it is possible to prevent some mental illnesses by addressing issues related to work, housing, childcare and education. On a personal level, there are many things that may be out of our control when it comes to both our physical and mental health, however there is a lot that we can do to maintain good mental health, such as: Keeping good physical health by enjoying a well-balanced diet and exercising, avoiding too much stress, finding enough time to do the things that we enjoy, investing in nurturing relationships, sleeping well and reaching out to others when we are going through a difficult time. However, it is important to remember that anyone can experience a mental illness at any point in their life even if they do take care of their mental health and well-being.


Claire Borg is a gestalt psychotherapist at Willingness. She works with adolescents and adults. She has a special interest in mental health. She can be contacted on claire@willingness.com.mt.