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Here’s how you can tell your boss you’re suffering from anxiety and/or depression

Published on:9 January 2021, 14:06pm IST
Mental health has been spoken about in hushed tones, especially at the workplace. If you've been struggling with anxiety, depression or any other disorder, it is important to talk about it at the office.
Geetika Sachdev
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Don’t be afraid of what they might think. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

If there was one year that catapulted mental health into the limelight, it was 2020—the year of the pandemic. Never before have people in India discussed anxiety and depression like they did during all these months of being trapped at home. Moreover, with work turning remote, boundaries between personal and professional life were blurred, causing more agony. 

Although this was an unprecedented situation, there is a large population that has already been struggling with mental health issues, but chooses not to speak about it—especially when it comes to the work front. Uttering the ‘D’ word is almost a crime, because it is believed to inhibit professional growth. In this scenario, what should one do? Should they tell their boss that they are struggling with anxiety, depression, and or any other mental health issues? The answer is YES. Because if you don’t, your situation may anyway spiral, causing productivity issues. 

So, what is the best way to approach your boss? Fret not, we are here to help you deal with this situation in the right manner. 

Understand where you are

To begin with, you must be prepared to disclose this information to your boss. Once you are clear about that, then you move on to the next step. Some people say it’s best to let the boss know when you get a job offer, others say you should say it when it begins to interfere with your work. Well, there’s really no right or wrong answer. It completely depends on your conditions, symptoms and of course, the culture at your workplace. 

mental health
Talking it out is the best way to deal with it. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

In any case, discussing mental health is a sensitive issue, and if some people think their work isn’t getting affected, they choose to keep it a secret. That’s because people do not want to make a big show about their medical history! 

On the other hand, for some people, it gets hard to disclose their condition, when work begins to get affected. That’s because they are worried they might have to explain their condition, and it could go against them. Well, whatever you decide to do, make sure you are at a comfortable place when it comes to disclosure. If you feel you’re going to get more anxiety by telling your boss, then think about it and take a call. 

Find an appropriate time to discuss with your boss

Once you have decided to talk about it, you can approach your boss and speak about your anxiety affecting your work. In case you feel the workplace environment is not the most conducive, make sure to bring it up. You could also bring in some points that show you’ve been excelling in some departments. This could help you have a balanced conversation. 

On the other hand, if you think talking to your boss will make matters worse (but you still want to disclose your mental health condition), then it’s best to approach the HR department. That’s because they are better trained to assist in complicated matters.

In case your mental health condition is something that is difficult to keep under control, it is advised to let your employers know during the hiring process. Being upfront and putting it in context is challenging, but extremely important. If you are a part of a support group, you could bring that up too. 

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Approach your colleagues as well

Once you’ve shared about your problem with your boss, you might want to let your colleagues know. Well, maybe not all of them, but a few who you think might understand your problem. Remember don’t let the stigma come in the way, because mental health is as important as physical health. Let your colleagues know about your mental health, because that will help them talk about it, in case they go through the same cycle. Moreover, you never know when some of them might just turn out to be your biggest support system at work. 

Here are some tips to approach the situation better

Here are a few tips that will come in handy when you discuss mental health with your boss and/or colleagues: 

  • Do it in person. Never ever text your boss or colleague, or email them. These conversations are sensitive, and must be spoken about face-to-face.
  • Choose a time that’s right for you. You could call for a meeting when you are relatively calm, so that you don’t let your emotions get the better of you.
  • Remember knowledge is power. When you decide to talk about your mental health to your boss, come with a list of specific priorities, outline what you are able to handle and where you need additional support.
  • You are not required to overshare information about your medication or therapist. In a professional environment, keep the conversation simple and short, without divulging too many details. 

Geetika Sachdev Geetika Sachdev

An independent writer and journalist, Geetika loves sharp and fresh humour, just like her coffee! If not writing, you'll find her cafe-hopping and raiding the best book stores in town.