There’s no right or wrong time to tell others at work. Some people choose to discuss their anxiety or depression at the recruitment stage, while others might decide to tell their employer if stress becomes an issue, or following a diagnosis.

Planning out what you’re going to say with a trusted person – a friend, family member, support worker or health professional – can help you to structure your ideas and the points you want to cover. You can also practise how the conversation might flow. 

Speaking to a close colleague or HR officer can also be helpful. They can provide support and be in the room when you discuss your situation with your manager. 

We've developed a conversations planner to help you think about what you're going to say. There's space for you to type or write notes as you go. 

Plan the conversation

Timing and setting

If you’re thinking about talking to your manager or colleagues, the timing and setting can play a big part in how comfortable you feel.

Some things to consider might include:

  • Formal or relaxed – some people prefer to set a time and meet in a private room, while others feel more relaxed in a café or staff area.
  • Morning or afternoon – are you more alert after your morning coffee? Is your manager usually free just after lunch?
  • Short chat or longer discussion – what level of detail about your condition are you comfortable talking about? How much time will you need for the conversation?
  • Who will you tell – your supervisor, senior manager or colleague/s?
  • What level of privacy do you wish to maintain?
  • What can your manager do to support you? What changes to your workload or schedule do you need?
  • What sort of reaction are you expecting?
  • What will you do if the reaction is different to what you are expecting?


Plan out what


you're going to


What to say

The level of detail you share with your employer and whether you talk about your specific diagnosis is up to you. Your discussion only has to cover the information your employer needs to help you. You might find it useful to think about:


 Download the conversation planner

  • What are your reasons for talking about your condition?
  • Are there any particular things they can do, such as offering you flexible working conditions or an adjusted workload?
  • Are there problems at work that are contributing to your mental health condition, like stressbullying or harassment?
  • Explain how your condition is affecting your ability to do your job – and if it isn’t having any impact, be clear on this to avoid incorrect assumptions.
  • Where can your manager get more information?
  • Focus on the positive – your skills and strengths in your role.

Together with your manager, decide on the best way to talk about any issues going forward. They are legally obligated to keep your discussions confidential, so be clear on what, if anything, you'd like to be communicated to your colleagues.

Finally, keep a written record of these discussions, noting down what you’ve agreed with your manager and when.

Having trouble figuring out what to say? This conversation planner can help.

Telling your colleagues

It's also a good idea to discuss with your manager what, if anything, you would like other team members to know about your experience. It’s your decision who finds out and how, but bear in mind that they may be curious about special provisions being made for you. It's also worth asking if your organisation has a policy regarding employee privacy.

If special adjustments are made to your job, you may find your colleagues will want to know about them. For example, if you have organised time off work for medical appointments, colleagues may ask your manager why you get time off but they don't.


How much


are you comfortable sharing?

If you decide to tell your colleagues, or give permission for your manager to inform the team or individual people, have a think about:

  • How much detail are you comfortable revealing?
  • Do you want to share your specific diagnosis, or more general information?
  • If you’d prefer your manager told other colleagues, what should they say?
  • How will you answer potentially insensitive questions from colleagues who don't understand what you are experiencing?
  • How will you describe what's been happening?