Have you ever felt the need to discuss your mental health issues at work, but didn’t know how? Many employees struggle to communicate their needs with their employers, especially when their mental health isn’t at its best. But this leads to less productivity, motivation, and overall efficiency in the workplace.
It can be scary to talk to your manager about your mental health issues and how it affects your job. But without an honest conversation, you won’t get the support you need while your boss won’t get the communication they need.
If you want to start a conversation with your boss about your mental health, here are 4 ways to help you get started.
Determine what you need
If you start a conversation with your boss but aren’t sure where it’s going to lead, then it’ll prove difficult to reach a solution. You want to make sure that you know where you want the conversation to go so you feel comfortable and prepared.
Before talking to your boss, determine what you need from them. Perhaps you want to introduce the idea of remote working so you can split your time between home and the office. Maybe you need to take a few weeks off to assess your mental health and decide what your next step is.
Whatever the case may be, know what the end goal is before you start the meeting or conference call. Your manager may not always know what the best decision is or what will help you the most. Going in with a clear idea of an outcome is a great way to steer the conversation in the right direction.
Familiarize yourself with the law
In the worst-case scenario that your boss tries to guilt or shame you for coming forward, it’s important you know their legal limits.
If you live in the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits companies from discriminating against disabled workers. Those with a history of mental illness or disorders can be considered disabled which gives them access to rights and benefits.
Under this act, you can stop worrying about facing discrimination and your boss getting away with it. You have the right to share what you’re going through and ask for reasonable accommodations so you can work at your best.
In the unfortunate event that your boss takes unkindly to the conversation about your mental health, report it to the Human Resources department.
Maintain your privacy
Just because you’ve decided to talk to your boss about your mental health doesn’t mean you have to tell them everything. You have a right to your privacy and how much or little you want to share.
For example, you don’t have to disclose that you have ADHD which gives you focusing problems. If you’d rather not give the name, you can say you have concentration issues that hinder your productivity.
You also don’t have to go into detail about your family’s mental health history or your manic episodes. What’s important is that you communicate effectively so your employer understands what you’re facing. That way, you can look toward useful solutions.
While it’s easier said than done, it’s crucial to communicate with transparency while discussing the effects of your mental health. It’s challenging to be vulnerable and share with others something personal you’re experiencing. But without honesty, they won’t fully understand the big picture or what you’re going through.
Transparent communication helps both parties avoid burnout by identifying the root of the problem and creating viable solutions. Being open about your feelings and hardships gives your boss the opportunity to understand you as well as help you.
Communicating honestly also gives other employees and team members the confidence to speak up about their mental health. Too many employees are afraid of what will happen if they voice their concerns. But in reality, it eliminates the stigma and encourages everyone to do better.
Over to you
Talking to your boss about your mental health doesn’t have to be daunting or the end of the world. It’s important to bring these issues to the spotlight to erase the stigma behind mental health and start a useful conversation. The more you deny how you feel, the longer you’ll feel trapped. These tips should help you create effective dialogue at work so you can feel better about yourself and improve your wellbeing. How will you talk to your boss about your mental health?
This article originally appeared in ThriveGlobal.