17 October 2017

Telling your boss about mental health problems

Telling your boss about mental health problems

This is a bit of an ironic post for me to make, because guess who hasn't told their new boss about their mental health issues yet? *Waves hand frantically*. But, as I have some (upsettingly) obvious self harm scars, I imagine it's only a matter of time before I get asked, or *hopefully* my boss has chosen the tactful route, noted my scars and realised that there may be some underlying issues.

Before, this job however, I have told almost all of my past bosses about my MH issues. When I worked as a waitress my 'off days' made a massive difference in my ability to do my job. I was a little more jittery when speaking to customers, and a lot less capable of handling angry chefs. It was necessary to talk about it, and again, my scars were hella obvious. 

I've only been in my new job for around six weeks, and if I'm honest, I'm really scared to open up this time. This is the first job I've had that I've genuinely cared about losing. I'd be absolutely heartbroken if my mental health issues managed to damage the chances I have there. And no, my workplace isn't a scary place to be, or a hostile atmosphere. I believe that they'd probably put things in place to help me if things got rough, but it's that niggling doubt that's holding me back.

Until I get my footing secure in this job, I likely won't speak out unless I have to, and I know this 'sets a bad example' and all that jazz, but it's the truth. However, in my past jobs things have always gone okay. It can be hard to talk about things in person, so I've spoken to managers via email in the past to explain that I have mental health issues. I tend to do it as a security net; if I have a down day, or if I'm struggling I can then tell them that my mental health is bad without having to explain that I suffer with mental health issues in the first place.

Part of me thinks that it's none of their business. If I do my work, then I shouldn't have to mention it any more than I should have to mention a physical health problem. But, telling your boss can allow them to help you to do your job more successfully. In my past job, my manager would ask me how I was doing on a certain week if she was going to give me more than my normal six shifts. She knew that having too many shifts in a week could make me go downhill, and her knowing that took the pressure off. It gave me the ability to say no to more than I was capable of, and meant that someone had my back when it came to making sure that my needs were met.

What I'm trying to say is do what you think is best. You don't *have* to tell your boss about your MH problems, but equally it can be really useful to do so. 

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6 comments:

  1. This is such an important post, you are so brave for writing it! I can't imagine how difficult it would be to open up to bosses about mental health struggles. I have a difficult time doing this with friends and family closest to me, but I think you're right. It can help your boss understand things more clearly, and hopefully, they are compassionate and understanding. Mental health is so important, and we all have our struggles! I hope it all works out for you and that your bosses are accepting which I'm sure they will be xx

    Sending light & love your way,

    My Lovelier Days

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    1. Thank you so much! It's definitely hard, and I would find it hard to tell a boss that I didn't know at all. I hope that things work out when I choose to tell them too!

      Steph x

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  2. I have had bad experiences with this in the past, unfortunately. My job played a big part in why my mental health was going down rapidly, so it made it even trickier to tell my boss. After having been signed off work twice because of depression and anxiety, I decided to open up slowly and mention the possibility of there being a mental health issue. He told me to have a cup of tea.

    I am now my own boss and taking mental health problems seriously is much easier. I can take days off if I feel like I have to but the problem in my previous job remains, as I'm sure I'm not the only person whose problems have not been taken seriously by an employer.

    xxx

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    1. That's awful. It's terrible that an employer would think that having a cup of tea is the answer to mental health problems. I'm so glad things are better for you now though

      Steph x

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  3. It sounds like you've had a supportive boss in the past, that's brilliant! I don't think you're setting a bad example at all, though. Just by being honest and writing this post, you're setting a wonderful example. It isn't a bad thing to hold off until you feel more secure at work before sharing (if you choose to at all).
    Hope you're doing well xx

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    1. Thank you so much. Yes, I'll definitely wait until I've found my feet a bit more I think!

      Steph x

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