If you are struggling with a mental health issue, the thought of sharing this information with your manager probably seems daunting. You expect that they won’t understand what you’re going through or that you’ll be discriminated against in the future. Because, if you do experience poor mental health, chances are you’ve already felt that you’re not good enough at your job or that people think there is something wrong with you anyway.
It would be redundant to tell you not to feel that way. But it is important to know that more businesses are now aware of creating a positive environment for mental health issues and that the law is most definitely on your side.
Here is one fact that anyone dealing with a mental health issue must remember: You cannot be dismissed for having a mental health problem. And you absolutely don’t have anything to be ashamed about by coming forward to discuss any issues that you may have.
You are also generally under no obligation to tell your employer about any mental health issues you might have – but making them aware of your mental health could provide you with access to extra support. Workplaces are unable to help if they aren’t aware that there is an issue in the first place.
If it helps, practice with a close friend of family member what you would like to say before you do. All discussions are confidential, so you won’t become the subject of unwarranted attentions or gossip. Talking about your mental health is as individual as the issues themselves, so there is no ‘right’ way to do it. The key is to be truthful; everything else will come naturally.
Think about how specific you need to be. You are, of course, entitled to a line of privacy between your professional and personal life. But, if your mental health could potentially have an impact on your ability to perform your daily responsibilities within your job, you might want to consider giving examples as to how this might occur. That way, an employer can make appropriate adjustments to suit your needs.
Your employer may feel just as awkward as you do having this type of discussion. Often, that’s because people who don’t have mental health problems don’t fully understand what life is like when you live with conditions such as anxiety or depression. So, if you feel that it is appropriate, you might want to suggest an organisation or charity that they may turn to for advice.
Poor mental health can seem like an isolating experience. One in four people within the UK will experience a period of poor mental health in their lifetime. Look around your workplace: Potentially, one quarter of your peers will face their own, individual struggle. You are absolutely not alone in this.
With events such as Mental Health Week raising awareness, businesses realise that they must take their employees’ mental health seriously, dealing with each individual as exactly that.
Every employee deserves to have their mental health dealt with in a respectful and confidential manner. If you are going to speak to your manager, be honest and don’t be afraid. You may be surprised at how much of a relief it will be.