Employees are not required to disclose mental health issues but it may be in your benefit to consider doing so. You may be hesitant to notify your employer about a mental health condition because you are concerned about confidentiality or how you will be treated. However, if you have a mental health problem that qualifies as a disability and wish to be protected by the Equality Act, you should consider informing your employer.

If you do decide to tell your boss, consider the following:

When and how to do it…

Having a note from your doctor to explain your condition can be beneficial.

How much information are you willing to share?

You don’t need to delve into personal details; instead, concentrate on how your mental health issue affects your work.

Whom to share it with?

The human resources department, for example, may be aware of your diagnosis, but they are not required to inform your supervisor or co-workers.

How do I show my employer that I have a disability?

Your employer may accept what you say without requesting additional information in some cases. However, because mental health issues aren’t often visible, it can be difficult to explain your situation to your boss.

Therefore, it is helpful to have a note from your doctor or another professional to explain what mental health problems you have and how they effect you and what adjustments might help you manage at work.

What kinds of adjustments can I ask my employer to make?

If your mental health problem is a disability, and there is a component of your job that is putting you at a significant disadvantage as a result of your disability, your employer is obligated to make reasonable accommodations to minimize that disadvantage.

Examples of adjustments you could ask for include:

  • changes to your working area
  • changes to your working hours
  • spending time working from home
  • being allowed to take time off work for treatment, assessment or rehabilitation
  • temporarily re-allocating tasks you find stressful and difficult
  • getting some mentoring.

3 thoughts on “Telling employers about mental illness

  1. So often, mental health issues relating to work manifest as missed days with no explanation. In my experience, even the most empathetic employers have a low degree of tolerance for this. I think if missed work is likely, it’s best to explain upfront “if I ghost you, this is what’s going on.” And people should call in no matter how painful. It might save your job.

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  2. I work for an insurance company. I was just in the psych ward for 5 days and my employer is very supportive of all illnesses. They pride themselves on being inclusive and work/home balance. I feel that this is very beneficial and allows transparency. I don’t have a problem with telling my employer about my diagnoses (plus, they process my claims). They are big on mental health and encourage mental health days. Even overtime is limited so as not to burn out their employees. I am lucky. AND I get to work from home. They make accommodations for those with disabilities, hire vets, have programs that they cover for mental health, etc. I truly am grateful for this. They really thought I was going to be gone for longer and were prepared. But my work makes me feel as if I matter. I would rather work than sit home doing nothing. This was very informative though as some people get the side eye when they try to look out for their mental health.

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