A lot of us struggle to be candid about our mental health at our workplace. Anxiety and depression are still largely misunderstood by many people, so it can be difficult to be open
Initiating a conversation about mental health is a pretty daunting task. For a long time, there was a big social stigma that was connected to mental disorders, which made it hard for people to open up about their personal mental health struggles. But the truth is a lot of people in the United States of America suffer from some form of anxiety disorder or depression. Statistics show that nearly 6.8 million people in the U.S suffer from General Anxiety Disorder or GAD. As for depression, it affects 6.7% of the U.S population.
However, over the past few years, there has been a growing awareness about the importance of one's mental well-being. The conversation about mental health is slowly becoming an easier topic to breach. But it’s not all the way up there just as yet. Mind.uk explains that people worry about telling their employers about their mental health because they fear their confidentiality. Many people also feel that they will be treated differently after opening up.
Several still struggle to be candid about their mental health at their workplace as anxiety and depression are still largely misunderstood by many people. Sharing your personal mental health struggle with your boss can be a pretty daunting task. Will it change the way they look or talk to you? Will it affect your responsibilities? Sure many have faced these situations and questions often.
A lot of people firmly believe in compartmentalizing their work and personal life. But what they don’t realize is that anxiety and depression is a continuous struggle which doesn't take a break when they are at work. Talking to your boss about your mental health can be a difficult decision to come to, but it’s only for the sake of your own mental health.
Telling your colleagues or boss about your mental health makes it easier to function in the workplace. With your candor, you will create an open and honest work environment. Talking to people about your struggles will also make you feel a lot better, calmer and safer in your work environment. You may initially feel awkward about the whole thing, but it will only improve with enough conversation.
Remember that it’s your right to talk about your personal mental health with your employer. The law states that discrimination against mental health is illegal. Not only that, but the law also states that you have a right to treatment as well. So it’s not against the law to open up.
So how exactly can one breach the topic to their employers? Here are a few ways you can talk to your boss about your mental health.
It can be easier to open up to your peers first before approaching your boss. Talking to your colleague about your mental health can make it easier to approach a higher authority about the same topic. You can also ask for their support if you do decide to talk to your boss. If it’s something you find difficult to talk about, it can be a lot easier to have someone around who knows a bit of your struggle.
Sometimes, the thought of approaching someone who doesn’t personally know your mental health can cause a fair amount of mental distress. This can cause out thoughts to scramble all over the place. We can sometimes find ourselves struggling for words. Making a list of things that you want to highlight is a great way to get your thoughts organized. It will also help you establish a good sense of communication with your employer.
If your boss is an approachable person, and you feel comfortable to talk to them face-to-face, then ask them if you can have a private chat with them in their free time. Having a one-on-one conversation can make it a lot easier to open up about your mental health struggle.
If talking to them is not something you are comfortable with, then you can write an email instead. This will also allow you to better articulate your problem. Emails would be a preferred choice of communication in most workplaces, so even if you’re on the best of terms with your boss, a formal email can also help break the ice.
Human Resources department’s sole purpose is to be there for the employee. They’re equipped with the right tools to handle a company’s employees. If it’s hard to get a hold of your boss to have a personal chat about your mental health, then consider talking to someone from HR.
It’s important to have an end goal in mind when you talk to your boss about your mental health. If it’s about taking some time off to focus on your mental health, then remember to keep that in mind when you do open up about your struggles. Focusing on the end goal can also help your mind focus on what the conversation needs to be about.
People who suffer from depression and anxiety often feel like nothing works in their favor. Judgment is something that they try very hard to avoid, so sometimes, having conversations about their personal mental health can be very difficult. Jumping to the worst conclusion never did anyone good. It may be difficult to do, but if you feel like you can’t have a conversation about this, you can and should always write it down and let it be known.
If you have a good rapport with your boss, you can ask them if working from home is an option. Or maybe some of your tasks could be reassigned to a colleague. If you can work, but just need a break from your work environment, it’s perfectly within your right to ask for it.
We don’t often find the right words to talk to our bosses about our mental health. But your doctor probably could. You can ask your therapist, counselor, or physician to write a note to your boss explaining your mental health and how they can assist you. It may sound like a childish practice, but sometimes, hearing it from a medical professional is a lot more effective.
Here's a great video showing us how we can deal with workplace stress:
Note: For any mental health relates issues, always ask for a medical or professional help. If you want more details on how to approach your boss about your mental health, please approach a trained medical professional for further advice.