The following article was kindly submitted by Hannah Walters. Hannah is a freelance writer. She took the leap after many years as a content writer for a digital marketing agency. Having struggled with her mental health on a personal level, it’s become one of her favourite topics to cover. The true love of her life is her dog. He has helped her through some tough times, he’s especially good at making sure she gets outside and plenty of fresh air. 

Taking charge of your mental health is an important step towards your overall well-being, and it’s crucial to recognise that it’s okay to feel the need to seek support, especially in the workplace. Your employer plays a significant role in creating a positive work environment that promotes mental health and well-being. However, approaching your employer about the struggles you’re facing can seem incredibly daunting and challenging. In this blog, we will explore how to plan and have a productive discussion with your employer about your mental health. We will provide practical tips and strategies to help you navigate this conversation with confidence, ensuring that you are supported in prioritising your mental health at work.

How is your job impacting your mental health?

High levels of stress, unrealistic expectations, lack of recognition, long work hours, and toxic work environments can all contribute to mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, and burnout. It’s important to recognise and acknowledge how your job may be impacting how you’re feeling, as this awareness can empower you to take steps towards prioritising and improving your well-being. Understanding the relationship between your job and your mental health is a crucial first step in proactively managing your mental health in the workplace.

Understand your rights

The first step you need to take before approaching your employer about your mental health struggles is to make sure to research and understand your rights as an employee regarding mental health in the workplace. Familiarise yourself with any relevant laws or policies that protect your rights, such as the Equality Act. This knowledge will empower you to advocate for yourself effectively when approaching your employer.

Prepare for the conversation

Although it may increase your feelings of anxiety, it’s crucial to plan and prepare for the discussion with your employer in order for you to get as much out of the conversation as possible. Consider what you want to communicate, including your concerns, needs, and any accommodations or adjustments that could support your mental health at work. Anticipate potential questions or objections from your employer and be prepared to address them.

Choose the right timing and approach

Timing and approach are key to having a productive conversation with your employer about your mental health. Choose a suitable time when your employer is likely to be receptive, such as during a scheduled performance review or in a private meeting. Be honest, clear, and respectful in your communication, and focus on how your mental health is impacting your ability to perform your job effectively.

Request accommodations or adjustments

Be specific in your conversation about any accommodations or adjustments that would help to support your mental health at work. This could include flexible work hours, reduced workload, or changes in job responsibilities. Providing any evidence or documentation from your GP and collaborating with your employer to find mutually beneficial solutions can help create a supportive work environment that promotes your mental health and overall well-being.

Discuss potential solutions.

Be open to your employer’s suggestions and be willing to negotiate to find the most practical and effective ways to address your mental health needs at work. Emphasise how the accommodations or adjustments you are requesting would ultimately benefit your job performance and the company’s overall success.

Follow up and seek support.

After the initial conversation, follow up with your employer to ensure that any agreed-upon accommodations or adjustments are implemented. If needed, seek support from HR, a union representative, or a trusted colleague. It’s important to have ongoing communication and check-ins with your employer to ensure that your mental health needs are being met at work.

Remember, taking charge of your mental health at work is a right, and advocating for yourself can lead to a healthier and more productive work environment. By approaching your employer in a proactive and strategic manner, you can initiate a productive discussion that promotes your mental health and well-being in the workplace.