How To Talk To Your Boss About Your Mental Health

how to talk about mental health at work


When it comes to having a good relationship with work, we can say one thing for sure: your mental health matters. Of course, we believe everyone should take a mental health day here and there when they really need it, but our argument goes beyond that. If you’re struggling with your mental health, you should be upfront with your boss about it. Weird, we know. But trust us — honesty on the difficult subject could help you in the long run.

Not sure how to start the conversation? Here are a few steps for beginning the discussion:

Do some digging into why your mental health could use improvement.

Depending on the severity of your mental health condition or issues, it’s always beset to consult a doctor while being introspective at the same time. If your job plays a role in your situation — maybe it heightens your anxiety — identify what triggers it, whether it’s a person, project or something else. If work isn’t a factor, you may not feel justified talking to your boss, but it can still benefit you to broach the matter.

Find the right time to pull your boss aside.

It shouldn’t be hard to find a time to talk to your boss, but make sure you have the conversation in private. When you set up a meeting, which should be long enough where neither of you will be rushed, you can be vague or note that you’d like to discuss a personal issue when you connect.

Strike a balance between personal and not too personal.

When you meet with your boss, first ask for confidentiality, which really should go without saying, but still… Then share details on what you’re experiencing, but don’t feel like you have to explain your entire family history. The key is to talk to your boss about how the issue could affect or affects your productivity and the steps you’re taking to improve the situation. It shows that you take your responsibilities seriously and you’re committed to delivering what’s expected of you. Next, communicate what, if anything, you need from your boss and/or company to support you on your journey to improving your mental health. Maybe it’s a quieter place to work, or flexibility to go to doctor’s appointments during the day and make up the time at night. Perhaps you just want your boss to understand your situation. Either way, make clear what you want to come out of the conversation.

Know your rights.

It’s not likely it’ll come to this, but in the extreme case you face negative consequences from your boss for being transparent, get familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The law covers those with physical and mental disabilities and it could protect you from any discrimination you face in the workplace.