This can be a difficult area for many of us, and indeed, for employers, too. As an employee, of course you want to be productive while at work and fulfill your role to the best of your ability, but if you are suffering from a mental illness, then you may be entitled to certain accommodations. As an employer, you may want to be sympathetic to your employee’s state of mind and are naturally concerned about doing all you can to support their productivity.
Ideally, you could try to talk openly with your employer about your mental illness and pave the way for a solution that provides balance between what is expected of you at work, what you can do, and what can be done to help you. Here are a few guidelines for doing just that:
How specific do you want to be?
You get to decide whether you tell your employer that you have a medical condition, and you can choose not to disclose specific details e.g. whether you tell them that you have a neurological issue, a mental illness, or whether you choose to tell them your precise diagnosis, such as depression or anxiety. Remember that this decision is entirely yours to make.
Help your employer understand more about mental illness
If you have talked to your employer about your illness, it may be helpful for them to read more about the condition. Provide them with some literature that they can read in their own time and some resources should they want to know more.
Talk to your employer about how your illness may affect your role
It may be that your mental illness doesn’t inhibit the way you fulfill your role at work, in which case you can tell your employer that. If it does affect you in some way, however, be sure to communicate this in as precise terms as you can, so that they will know what accommodations (if any) you may require.
Just because you have disclosed your mental illness to your employer doesn’t mean that you can’t also remind them of your qualities and your suitability for the role, and if your employer should have any concern about you, your state of mind, or your work, then you should tell them how best to convey those to you in an appropriate manner.
Explain to them that a solution can always be found and that you are willing to work towards one.
One of the primary issues concerning the relationship between an employer and an employee with a mental illness is a lack of understanding and appropriate communication. Talk as openly as you’re comfortable with your employer about your mental health issues and show them that you are willing to work together for the benefit of the company and your role within the workforce. You may also find it helpful to discuss any work placed concerns with a counselor, who can guide you through your options if you’re feeling misunderstood while at work.
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