1 in 4 people will experience some form of mental health issue each year in the UK. It should therefore come as no surprise that 1 in 6.8 people will experience mental health problems while at their place of work and 12.7% of all absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions.
Although mental health problems are by no means uncommon, it is still a taboo subject. Many workers fear they will be stigmatised for needing time off or having particular requirements, but things are rapidly changing.
Today (10 October 2017) is World Mental Health Day, a day in which people all around the world speak out to encourage recognition, understanding and support for mental health conditions. As suffering in silence can often worsen one’s mental state, it is important to feel able to open up at work about your personal situation, especially if there’s something that can be done to benefit you.
Here are five tips about speaking to your boss about mental health:
1 – Honesty
Speaking out about mental health at work is likely to benefit your condition, but if you feel hesitant about divulging personal information you could always keep the conversation strictly medical. Explain your diagnosis or the conversation you’ve had with your doctor and print out information sheets to clarify your symptoms and requirements.
2 – Setting
Ensure you set up the meeting in a quiet, private space so both you and your boss feel comfortable and can speak freely about this sensitive subject matter. It will make you feel more confident and will also give your boss an opportunity to ask questions if they need to. If you think you’ll find it useful, take in some notes to remind you of what you want to say.
3 – Cooperation
The best way to improve the treatment of mental health issues in the workplace is to work collaboratively with your boss. Although it is important to be honest and speak out when you’re in need of help, it is ultimately up to your boss to decide how that help is given. The more reasonable and logical you are about the situation, the more understanding your boss will be of your point of view.
4 – Benefits
By speaking up you could potentially be helping your colleagues. You may be working alongside many other people who have been suffering in silence, and this in turn will help your boss; better mental health support in the workplace could save UK businesses up to £8 billion per year. It might be worthwhile mentioning this during your meeting and suggesting changes that would help everyone in the company.
5 – Rights
Under the Equality Act 2010, you have both the right to protection against discrimination as well as the right to request for reasonable adjustments at work to support you with your mental illness. Make sure to do some research beforehand so you know exactly what you can expect as a result of a meeting with your boss.
If you need further guidance about mental health, we highly recommend visiting the Mental Health Foundation website. They have lots of information about your rights, statistics and how to get the help you need. Alternatively, if you need more urgent assistance, click here to visit the Mind website.