Talking About Mental Health At Work

Posted 4 years ago •

 Less than half of employees said they would feel able to talk openly with their line manager if they were suffering from stress.

Although awareness of mental health is increasing more than ever before, approximately 1 in 4 people will experience mental issues according to statistics produced by the Mental Health Foundation. Your work life could be one contributing factor that is affecting your mental health. Remember; while important as it is for you to talk about these issues, your employer also has a responsibility to support and safeguard all employees.



Should I tell my employer about my mental health?

You’re not obligated to disclose information about your mental health issues at work, this is totally your choice. The age-old saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ rings true to a degree and if you feel like your work is comprised, speaking to your manager may be worthwhile.


How do I approach the situation?

If you feel the time is right, organise a meeting with your manager privately and try to have an honest conversation with them about how you are feeling, how it is affecting you and your work and what your employer can do to help you. Many people fear talking about mental health issues because they don’t want to say the wrong thing. Gently lead the conversation and speak openly about your experiences to help your manager better understand what you are going through.


Should I confide in my colleagues?

Again, this is a personal decision and you don’t have to share anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. Fundamentally this comes down to how well you know your team and if they are supportive. If you’re feeling detached your colleagues may notice and having a support system may help you at work.


What if my manager is dismissive?

If you find your manager is being dismissive, always remember they have a legal duty to protect you by making reasonable adjustments and not discriminate under the Equality Act.


What adjustments can I suggest my manager make?

If your work life is contributing to your mental health issues and is causing you a major disadvantage, speak openly with your manager about adjustments that could be made to promote better mental health. Every situation is different, but some examples include:


  • Guidance on how to manage stress
  • Flexible working
  • Time off for appointments, assessments etc
  • Asking to be taken off projects temporarily that are having a negative impact on you
  • Asking if your employer has a wellbeing support system outside of work
  • Asking for a work mentor to help you through stressful periods at work


What outside support is available to me?

The first contact point would be your GP but in case of an emergency always visit your local A&E. Other charities that can provide advice and support include:


Mental Health Foundation - 020 7803 1101

Anxiety UK - 08444 775 774

Samaritans – 116 123

Mind - 0300 123 3393



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