How To Talk to Your Boss About Your Mental Health
Strong mental health is vital to a successful personal and professional life. If you feel you could improve your mental health by changing aspects of your professional life, it may be helpful to speak to your supervisor about your situation.
Determining how to approach the conversation and what to say can help you have a productive talk that allows you to make the needed changes. In this article, we explain how to talk to your boss about your mental health and share helpful tips to identify when to be proactive about your mental health at work.
Why is it important to talk to your boss about your mental health?
It’s important to talk to your boss about your mental health because it can give them insight into how they can best support you at work. Talking to your manager about your mental health can allow them to identify any accommodations they may be able to give you. Discussing aspects such as your workload, responsibilities and hours can help you find areas you can improve.
Do you have to disclose your mental health to your manager?
You don’t have to disclose your mental health to your manager if it doesn’t seem to affect your work. You can choose to talk about your mental health to your manager if you think there are aspects of your job you can change to improve your work-life balance. It’s important to be honest with yourself about your mental health, so you can find relief and develop stress-management and productivity strategies.
How to talk to your manager about your mental health
Here are nine steps for how to talk to your manager about your mental health:
1. Identify the state of your mental health
Before talking to anyone about your mental health, it’s beneficial to determine what you’re experiencing, so you can effectively convey this information. You can use a journal to document your emotions throughout the day to help you understand what could cause stress. Understanding your triggers can also assist you while describing your mental health challenges.
2. Discuss your mental health with your friends or family
If possible, talk to your friends, family or a trustworthy colleague about the mental health challenges you’re experiencing. Ask them for their opinion about how to approach your manager and if they believe it’s necessary for you to have the discussion. Your friends or family could be able to provide a different perspective and extra support while you navigate this challenge.
3. Understand what accommodations are available
Research the law in your area regarding disability accommodations that may be available to you. Depending on where you live, there may be protections for people with mental health disabilities that provide workplace accommodations. If you feel an accommodation may be helpful for your mental health, it’s useful to know what’s available to you.
4. Remember the conversation is confidential
Your manager is required to keep your discussion about your mental health private. The only exception is if you sign formal documentation that states they can disclose the information with individuals you approve of, such as emergency contacts. Knowing your conversation will be private can help you express your concerns in a safe space.
5. Request a formal meeting
A formal meeting can give you an opportunity to have a discussion with your manager and give them time to prepare for any sensitive information you make speak to them about. Depending on your workplace, you can request a formal meeting through an email or ask an administrative professional to schedule an appointment for you. Choosing a formal time and place to approach the discussion can demonstrate your professionalism and sincerity regarding the information you want to share.
6. Decide how much to disclose
It’s beneficial to be as transparent as possible while discussing your mental health with your manager. Journaling about your health prior to your meeting may help you identify what you’re comfortable sharing. See if you can identify specific parts of the workday that affect your mental health the most to have a productive conversation.
7. Create an outline of your talking points
Talking points can help you navigate the conversation and serve as a reminder of what to discuss. Using an outline can help you facilitate the conversation and stay on topic. This also can ensure your manager receives all the necessary information to form a conclusion and decide how to respond.
8. Listen to feedback
After talking to your manager about your mental health, allow them to respond and provide feedback regarding how to best assist you. Feedback is a good way to start an ongoing conversation with your manager. It also enables your manager to give you a meaningful response so you can work together toward a solution, such as using self-care practices or lessening your workload.
9. Ask for a mental health day
Considering requesting a day off to focus on your emotional well-being and self-care. A mental health day is a personal day that you can dedicate to nurturing your health. It’s helpful to ask for one after having a discussion about your mental health challenges. This can reinforce that you’re looking to take care of yourself so you can become more productive and efficient in the workplace. It also demonstrates your commitment to the job and the company and to better yourself for the workplace.
Benefits of talking to your manager about your mental health
Here are some benefits of talking to your manager about your mental health:
Promotes open communication
Talking to your manager about your mental health can encourage transparency and develop an honest relationship. Open communication may help you feel more comfortable when mental health obstacles arise and you’re looking for support and understanding in the workplace. After talking to your manager, you may feel a stronger level of trust with them.
Allows you to take care of yourself
After disclosing your mental health, your manager may understand the need to take mental health days and practice self-care in the workplace. They can become more empathetic to your feelings and encourage you to practice habits to improve your health. Talking about your health also can promote feelings of relief and enable you to take care of yourself in a supportive environment.
Relieves stress and worry
Having a conversation about your health with your manager can give you a source of support at work. That support can help reduce stressful feelings related to your workload. If you can establish a connection with your manager, you may be able to approach them with additional concerns about your work long term.
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