There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to telling people at work about your mental health condition. Whether you choose to tell others can depend on how much your condition affects your role, the amount of support you have outside the workplace and your relationships with your colleagues.

You are not legally required to tell your employer unless your condition has the potential to endanger your safety or that of your colleagues – for example, your ability to operate machinery or make decisions.

It may also be a good idea to discuss your condition with your employer if it's compromising the standard of your work, or if there are concerns about your performance. If this applies to you, you may need some adjustments to support you at work.

Weighing up the pros and cons

Reasons to tell

  • Discussing your condition gives you and your employer an opportunity to talk about any support or changes you might need to help you stay at work and/or assist your recovery.
  • Making adjustments to your schedule or workload can reduce the number of sick days you need and help you be more productive when you’re at work.
  • By sharing your experiences, you’re helping to change people’s attitudes.
  • Being open with your colleagues can help to avoid rumours or gossip.
  • If your performance or productivity has changed, telling your colleagues means they’re more likely to be understanding.
  • If you need to make a formal disability discrimination complaint at a later date, telling your employer helps to protect your rights.

Reasons not to tell

  • Your depression and/or anxiety may not affect your ability to do your job.
  • You might not need any adjustments to your workload or schedule at the moment.
  • You might be worried about potential discrimination, harassment or reduced opportunities for career progression.
  • For some people, the depression and/or anxiety may pass but the label and associated stigma can be permanent.
  • Some employers fail to provide the legal level of support or follow legislative requirements.
  • You might already have adequate support networks outside the workplace and feel there’s not much to gain by talking about your condition.


If you're unsure about your decision, our interactive tool can help.

Talking about a mental health condition - Geoffrey's story

In this three-part acted scenario, Geoffrey is struggling at work but unsure whether he should speak to his manager, Martin, about his condition. After weighing up all the factors with his partner, he decides to tell Martin. They discuss changes to Geoffrey's workload and tasks to support his recovery.

Overcoming barriers

Even with the most supportive managers and colleagues, many people find it hard to talk about their mental health condition. Some people are worried about burdening others, while some fear letting their emotions show. Many people assume that depression and anxiety are private issues that shouldn’t be discussed.

Most of these worries are tied up with the stigma associated with mental health and can get in the way of seeking support.

Things to remember:

  • Put yourself in your colleagues’ shoes – if they were struggling, you would want them to trust and confide in you.
  • By telling others, you’re communicating the value you place on the relationship.
  • It’s important to realise that people might not understand what you’re going through, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to be supportive.
  • The conversation might be a bit awkward – you may not know what to say and they might not know how to react – but most people feel a sense of relief afterwards.

Rights and responsibilities

Remember, you’re not legally required to tell your employer about your mental health condition, unless there’s a risk to yourself or others. If you decide to tell your employer, they have a legal responsibility to maintain your privacy, protect you from discrimination in the workplace and make changes to the workplace to support you.

However, unless you tell your employer about your mental health condition, it will be very difficult to make a formal disability claim at a later stage, should it be necessary.

It may also be a good idea to disclose if your performance at work has become an issue or you are facing disciplinary procedures. Likewise, if your ability to safely execute tasks or operate machinery is compromised, it is worthwhile telling your employer regardless of whether you legally have to.



If you decide to tell your employer, they have a legal responsibility to make changes to your role to help you keep working.

Other considerations

Like people, every workplace is different. Business culture and managers’ attitudes mean that the amount of support you receive can vary.

It’s worth considering the following if you’re thinking about telling your employer:

  • Is your mental health condition affecting your ability to perform your role safely?
  • Does your employer have an organisation-wide mental health strategy?
  • Does your employer have a specific policy that covers returning to work after a mental-health related absence?
  • Is there a specific privacy policy that will ensure your manager keeps any information you give them confidential?
  • Is your mental health condition affecting your performance and long-term career goals?
  • Is the stress of hiding your mental health condition further affecting your wellbeing?
  • Do you know of anyone else in the workplace who has disclosed a mental health condition, and can they give you advice?
  • Are there support resources available, such as an Employee Assistance Program?
  • Your employer may be able to provide you with support if they are aware of your condition. Otherwise, they may misinterpret a change in your behaviour as a performance issue.
  • Workplace social support is a factor in managing and recovering from a mental health condition.



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