When you look around in your workplace, you probably cannot tell which of your coworkers might be struggling with their mental health. After all, most people tend to struggle privately when they experience mental health issues. Yet, you would be surprised to know that the CDC confirms that one in five people in America struggles with mental health.
Considering that 63% of the American adult population is part of the workforce, deciphering the likelihood of how many of your coworkers or yourself might be struggling with a mental health issue will not be too difficult.
Yet, with a large number of our population facing such issues, why is it seldom addressed within the workplace?
Mental Health Stigma in Workplace
Individuals are less likely to talk about their struggles with mental health for several reasons. One of these includes the fear of being perceived as weak or incompetent, especially by your boss.
Similarly, we might fear that taking days off for our mental health or asking for flexible schedules would put our jobs at risk. The harsh reality is that not all bosses may respond positively if you share your mental health struggles.
But that does not mean you don’t. The same research by CDC shows that when mental health goes unaddressed, it leads to further unavoidable problems that impact our productivity at work. It hampers our ability to effectively communicate and engage with others, ultimately making us feel burned out and with an even worse mental state.
How to Talk About Your Mental Health in the Workplace
Luckily, conversations around mental health in the workplace are starting to normalize. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people are coming out with their struggles, and managers, employers, and bosses have become more empathetic.
This has also allowed companies and employers to provide their workers with the professional help they need. Such great company practices lead to a multitude of benefits, such as attracting better quality employees, greater employee retention, and overall less stress on existing employees.
However, even though this is happening, some of us might still feel uncomfortable talking to our employers about our mental health. And that is completely understandable. Talking about something so private makes us feel vulnerable, and we don’t want to feel that way in front of our employers. However, the fact of the matter is that vulnerability makes us stronger. On that note, here are some tips that can help make the conversation easier:
- Avoid having the conversation on a hectic workday; instead, pick a quieter time when you have your employer’s full attention
- Make the conversation honest and direct
- When sharing your mental health struggles, including the company’s needs and how they would be impacted
- Know exactly why you are disclosing this information and what support you need
- Consider asking a friend or your therapist to have a role-play of the conversation with your boss beforehand
Figuring out how to discuss mental health with your employer can be a daunting and stressful task. We all struggle with issues every now and then. However, we must take our time to manage our struggles and essentially choose ourselves during these times. Don’t let this prevent you from leading a happier and healthier career. This is why having the conversation is so important, so go in with a positive mindset and confidence.
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