Ways to Discuss Your Mental Health with an Employer
If you’re struggling with your mental health, know that you’re not alone. According to the World Health Organization, three out of every four people in the United States are living with a mental illness of some sort. Despite the prevalence of mental health issues, it can still be hard to discuss your mental health with your employer.
Understandably, people don’t want to disclose their conditions for fear of receiving a negative response from their employer. Those fears aren’t unfounded. One survey, which interviewed 500 hiring decision makers, revealed that 83% were reluctant to hire a candidate with a severe mental illness because they worried that person wouldn’t be able to handle the demands of the job. Furthermore, 68% of survey respondents said they were concerned that the same type of candidates wouldn’t mesh with the rest of the team.
Even so, you’re still considering discussing your mental health with your employer. As you weigh your options, you should investigate the strategies you can use to help you feel as prepared and comfortable as possible if you do decide to approach your employer. It’s also important to understand the federal laws and policies that are in place to help protect your rights as a worker.
Should You Talk About Your Mental Illness with Your Employer?
The idea of discussing your mental health with your employer is likely intimidating. However, being upfront about your mental health helps to create an honest and open environment around you. Remember that your employer wants you to perform your job to the best of your ability, so having a conversation about what you need to be successful at work will benefit both you and your boss. Prioritizing your mental health could mean better work performance and fewer absences.
Additionally, disclosing your mental illness could provide you with a sense of relief. Rather than dealing with your mental health issues on your own and possibly trying to hide them, you can get help and make a plan with your employer so that you have the provisions in place to take care of your mental health. Strong time management is key to success in any job, but you can’t manage your time if you don’t have the proper resources like the time necessary to complete your job duties or the tools to get organized. When you live with a mental illness, communicating these needs to your employer can be difficult.
While the law doesn’t require you to disclose your mental health to your employer (unless there’s a work-related reason for needing to do so), sitting down and having a conversation may be necessary if the challenges you’re facing could affect your ability to do your job, you attitude at work, or your relationships with coworkers. The right decision about whether or not you should talk about your mental health with your employer depends on your particular situation, and if you’re still on the fence, you should consider consulting a psychologist.
Tips to Discuss Your Mental Health With an Employer
If you do decide to talk to your employer about your mental health, there are a few tips you should follow to ensure a productive conversation. First, it’s a good idea to wait until after you’re hired to disclose your mental health history. The interview process is not the best time to discuss your needs since you wouldn’t want what you say to influence your employer to choose another candidate.
Once you’re hired and have established yourself as a valuable team member, you can look for an opportunity to talk to your employer about any modifications you may need to your work schedule or environment. Spend time thinking about what you need, and don’t overlook self-care. Rather than waiting until you’re feeling overwhelmed and your work is suffering, you should be proactive and set up a meeting with your boss. If your company has an HR department, it’s wise to include them in the conversation as well.
In the meeting with your employer and HR, be sure to take notes so you have a record of mutually agreed upon expectations, changes to your schedule, and adjustments to deadlines. You might even want to prepare a few notes in advance so that you can adequately communicate your needs. If your situation requires more than a day off here and there, be sure to tell your employer that. For example, you might want to discuss remote work flexibility. Unless you’re honest about what you’re going through and what you need, they won’t be able to fully help you.
What You Need to Know About Protecting Yourself
Many people are reluctant to discuss their mental health with their employer because they’re worried about possibly losing their job. If that’s what’s holding you back from having a conversation with your boss, then the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) should provide some comfort. Companies with 15 or more employees are required to provide reasonable accommodations.
Even if your mental illness isn’t presently affecting your work performance, it’s still in your best interest to talk to your employer since having the appropriate documents on file with HR such as Family Medical Leave (FMLA) paperwork could be important if you need to take a leave of absence from work down the road. Know your rights and advocate for yourself.
It can be difficult to discuss your mental health with your employer, but it’s an important step for getting the help you need and creating an environment where you can succeed. Having a plan in place for how you will approach your employer will give you the confidence necessary to open up to them about your mental health.
Guest post by Luke Smith
Tags: behavioral health, Creating a Healthy Lifestyle in Recovery, discuss your mental health, health services, kids mental health, lake county, mental health, mental health awareness, mental health employer, mental health treatment, youth mental health