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 workmates.

 

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Weighing up the pros and cons

If you're considering telling others at work, we can help you weigh up the pros and cons. It can sometimes be hard to know what to do, especially if it already seems like there's too much going on.

 

Pros and cons

  • Reasons to tell

  • Reasons not to tell


If you're unsure about your decision, our interactive tool can also help you decide on having the conversation.

 

 


 

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.

 

Things to consider:

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 safely?
  • Does your workplace have a mental health strategy?
  • Does your workplace have a specific policy that covers returning to work after a mental-health related absence, and 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?
  • Are there support resources available, such as an Employee Assistance Program?
  • Do you know of anyone else in the workplace who has disclosed a mental health condition, and can give you advice?

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 can help people manage and recover from a mental health condition.

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.

 


 

Legal 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 difficult for you to make a formal disability claim at a later stage, if you need to.

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's worthwhile telling your employer regardless of whether you legally have to.

 

Learn more about how to tell your story