How to Talk to Your Boss About Mental Health Problems
Brianna Sharp
Mental health and work

Mental health is a huge component of our everyday lives, but unfortunately, sometimes it negatively affects us so much so to the point where we feel it’s impacting our ability to complete our work. If this is happening to you, it may be time to have a conversation with your boss about what’s going on. 

Now, let’s face it: having a conversation with your boss about mental health can be pretty intimidating. Not only is it a very vulnerable topic to open up about, but it also assumes a risk of being judged, losing your job, and so on. However, although it’s a scary topic to talk to your boss about, sometimes it’s necessary, and that’s okay! So, let’s dive into how you can go about talking to your boss about your mental health problems.

Steps to Take When Talking to Your Boss About Mental Health Problems

1. Prepare yourself

The first step in this process is simply preparing yourself for the conversation with your boss. Think about and write down the points you’d like to cover, including what you’re experiencing mental health-wise, how it’s affecting your work, and what accommodations you think you need during this time. Think about what you want out of this conversation and how you’re going to gear the conversation in a way that’s helpful to both you and your boss. It may be helpful to talk with a family member, friend, or therapist about what you plan on addressing and how you plan on saying it.

2. Schedule a meeting 

The next step in this process is scheduling a meeting with your boss. Rather than having this discussion in passing, find one-on-one time with your boss where you can intentionally connect with them and have this meaningful conversation. Although you may be wanting to push this meeting off and schedule it 2 weeks out because you’re nervous, it’s better to have it as soon as possible, so as to get this off your chest and be open and honest with your boss. 

3. Be honest, candid, and vulnerable

The time for that scheduled meeting has come, and now it’s time to talk with your boss about the mental health issues you’ve been experiencing as well as how it’s affecting your ability to complete your work. The best piece of advice that I have for this component is to just be honest, candid, and vulnerable about what’s going on. Try to give your boss as much context as possible, as this will help them understand what your needs are moving forward and how they can best help you and provide you with support. 

4. Brainstorm solutions

During the conversation with your boss, try to collectively come up with solutions. This could include asking if you could work flexible hours, if you could work in your preferred work environment, if you could take some time off, and so on. Discuss what you need from a work standpoint to best complete your job, and brainstorm ideas that will be beneficial to both you and your employer. Additionally, talk with your boss about what you’re currently doing or what you will be doing to help yourself with your mental health problems. 

5. Follow up 

After your conversation with your boss, it’s important to follow up with them on how you’re feeling and how the solutions that you’ve brainstormed and put into place are working for you. Be honest with yourself and your boss. At this point, hopefully you’re in a better place, but if you’re not, it’s best to open up about that. This could also be a time where you could thank your boss for their ongoing support of your mental health journey.

Conclusion

Opening up about mental health problems is difficult, especially when it comes to doing so with your boss. Mental health is a very vulnerable topic, and it’s not always easy to confront things like how it’s affecting your work. However difficult it may be however, it’s oftentimes better to tell your boss about your mental health problems than not, specifically when it’s taking a toll on your work life.

I hope that the steps above can be helpful in having a conversation with your boss about mental health issues. You got it, and remember, just focus on being honest!

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