How to Talk About Your Mental Health with Your Employer
Many of us face mental health difficulties at some point in our lives. According to the CDC, one in every five adults in America suffers from a mental health disorder yearly. With 63% of American adults employed, mental health at work is an issue that requires care and attention. Despite this, many of us are hesitant to discuss mental health at work or are unsure how to approach our supervisors about mental health.
It’s natural to believe that admitting you are struggling is a sign of weakness, especially in the workplace. But it is one of the greatest expressions of strength. Being vulnerable makes you a stronger person.
Why is it so difficult to discuss mental health with your bosses?
The discussion regarding our mental health at work is becoming more vocal. You may have seen the tweet that went viral last year when one CEO replied to the news that one of his staff was taking a couple of days off to care for her mental health in the best way possible.
Madalyn Parker, a web developer from Michigan who suffers from depression and anxiety, shared the email discussion with her boss on Twitter, where it has since been retweeted over 15,000 times. Parker’s employer, Ben Congleton, thanks her for her honesty and hails her as an example to us all.
Work takes up a big chunk of our life; we work an average of 38.6 hours per week, and when you include commuting time, that’s even more of the time we commit to working – even when we are not working. And no matter how much you like your job, we all have unpleasant days at work. No one is immune to mental illness, just as no one is immune to physical condition.
We all have experienced times of intense stress at work. You may be familiar with the following symptoms: fatigue, brain fog, and even burnout. These sensations have a tremendous impact on our whole sense of well-being, not only during work but also after we leave.
Resolving the Conversation
The good news is that in recent years, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic, talking about mental health at work has grown more prevalent.
According to research referenced by the American Psychological Association (APA), two-thirds of workers had mental health issues that impacted their ability to do their jobs during the epidemic, and 40% reported feeling burned out. Yet, more than ever, companies are receiving training in identifying the warning signs of mental health issues and providing perks like therapy and mental health days off from work.
The Best Ways to Discuss Your Mental Health
Many of us are uncomfortable discussing mental health with our supervisors, even though talks about it are evolving and many workplaces are becoming more accepting.
This is comprehensible! In the first place, it can be challenging to discuss uncomfortable emotions, and many of us view our mental health as a personal concern. It can be painful enough to talk to someone in a position of authority. We can also believe that disclosing a vulnerable aspect of oneself makes us appear frail or exposed. Some employers can still be operating under antiquated paradigms and oppose considering mental health.
Why Mental Health is Crucial
Being open and honest with those close to you about your mental health promotes a fair and relaxed atmosphere. Talking about your problems can be a huge source of relief. When you’re honest about your mental health problems, it’s often easier to stop feeling like you’re struggling alone, and things can be done to make you feel better. Even though it may be uncomfortable to have the conversation, things will eventually improve. Treating you differently because of your mental health is unlawful, and the law also permits you to receive the necessary accommodations. There won’t be any consequences for being transparent.
Getting Ready to Talk About Mental Health with Your Boss
PICK A GOOD MOMENT
Finding a calmer, less chaotic time to have this chat with your manager is the best course of action. It’s probably not a good idea to consume it during a challenging workday. It could be better to approach your supervisor first thing in the morning or as the workday ends. Some people are more at ease initiating communication via text or email. If you do this instead of creating a cold call or striking up a discussion in person, you could feel more emotionally secure doing so.
YOU CAN UTILIZE THESE SCRIPTS WITH YOUR BOSS
Having some examples to refer to when considering how to talk to your boss about your mental health might be beneficial. Here are some pointers and some potential scripts:
Approach #1: Be forthright and truthful
I have recently been under a lot of stress and burnout. Therefore, I want to ask for some time off to care for my mental health.
Approach #2: Attend to your business requirements
“Recently, I have had personal stress. I am aware that, as a result, I was disorganized and preoccupied at work. To take care of my mental health and return to work rejuvenated, I need a few personal days.”
Although it’s typical to be scared by the prospect of discussing your mental health with your supervisor, the law is on your side. In numerous contexts, including the workplace, the Americans with Impairments.
THE LAW IS ON YOUR SIDE
Although it’s typical to be scared by the prospect of discussing your mental health with your supervisor, the law is on your side. In numerous contexts, including the workplace, the Americans with Impairments Act (ADA) “prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities.” This also applies to those who have mental health issues.
Additionally, the ADA mandates that your workplace make “reasonable accommodations” to aid in the management of your mental health. These accommodations may include flexible work schedules, distraction-free work locations, work-from-home possibilities, written instructions/task lists, regular feedback, and more flexible break times, as stated by the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI).
So, it is imperative to talk to your boss regarding your mental health as it significantly impacts your personal and professional life in the long term. Therefore, discussing with your boss and asking for personal days is good practice. It will help you release your stress, positively impact your mental health and increase your working efficiency in the long term.
We hope you like this blog. Please let us know if you have any questions.