HOW TO EXPLAIN MENTAL ILLNESS TO YOUR BOSS

If you’re living with a mental health condition, you’re not alone. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, over 43 million American adults experience mental illness in a given year. Despite this prevalence, it can still be difficult to talk to others about what you’re going through. But when your symptoms begin to impact your performance on the job, you may wish to discuss your situation with your boss.

Disclosing your mental illness to your employer is a personal decision. While you’re under no obligation to talk to your boss about your mental health, it may help you – and them – to create a working environment that’s more conducive to productivity and can set you both up for success. If you’re ready to explain your situation to your boss, here are some tips on how to make the conversation go as smoothly as possible.

  • Find the right time

Although mental illness is unpredictable and you may not know how you’ll be feeling on any given day, try to plan the conversation for a time when you’ll be under minimal stress, such as a quiet day in the office. Also, ensure you have a private space to conduct the conversation – either a closed-door office or a conference room will do. It may be a good idea to include your HR representative to act as an intermediary and expert on company policy.

  • Describe your illness

It’s up to you to decide how to describe your mental health condition – and how much detail to get into. You could opt to use vague language, such as “mental illness,” but it can sometimes be helpful to share the details of your diagnosis, especially if you have documentation from your doctor.

  • Provide educational resources

Not everyone is familiar with mental illness and its symptoms, so it’s likely your boss will have questions after your discussion. Bringing along pamphlets, infographics, or fact sheets can help you provide them with answers to some of their questions. The National Alliance on Mental Illness offers a number of free resources you can print from their website.

  • Suggest possible adjustments

If your mental health is negatively affecting your ability to get your work done, you may want to explain this to your employer, then ask them for any accommodations you may need. For example, you may wish to ask for adjustments to your hours or flexibility with regard to your work location. Most employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations, as long as they do not cause undue hardship to the organization.

  • Highlight your strengths and accomplishments

It’s crucial to let your boss know that you’re a committed employee who can excel in your job even with your diagnosis. Spend some time reflecting on the contributions you’ve made to the organization, and the unique skillset you bring to the table. By focusing on your strengths, you’ll remind your boss of why you were hired and why the company benefits from your continued employment.

  • Know your rights

Many people are afraid to disclose their mental illness because they’re afraid of discrimination or backlash. However, there are laws in place to protect you as an employee. Before going into your meeting, it may be beneficial to review your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which covers businesses with 15 or more employees.

Treatment and support for mental illness at Alvarado Parkway Institute

If you’re struggling with symptoms of mental illness, Alvarado Parkway Institute can help. We actively work to break down the stigma associated with mental health disorders, and seek to educate patients, family members, and the greater community on how to cope with the effects of mental illness. Our treatment center offers comprehensive care for a number of mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and PTSD, and we are committed to our patients’ recovery.

For more information on how Alvarado Parkway Institute can help you manage your symptoms and live your best life, call us at (619) 667-6125.