Mental health in the workplace has been a hot topic, especially throughout a pandemic and ongoing changes within the world. While it seems, some employers are pushing to normalize mental health, you may find yourself not knowing how to bring it up with your employer or even with friends or family. Having the initial conversation can be the hardest part, whether that is finding the right time or figuring out how to make the conversation a comfortable one. If you find yourself trying to find ways to bring up your own mental health, here are a few ways to think about trying with your employer.
1. Think about what you need before starting a conversation
If you are taking the steps to talk with someone at work about your mental health, it could be beneficial to think it through before you have a conversation. Think about the reason you are bringing it up, and what you want to gain from the conversation. Writing down your thoughts can help you stick with what you are trying to achieve.
2. There is no right time for bringing it up, but choose a time you feel comfortable
Whether it be an organic conversation or a scheduled meeting, there is no right way or time to bring mental health up, but instead, focus on finding a time and place that will make you comfortable. Pick a setting that you allow you to share freely in addition to a time that feels right to you (which only you can choose).
3. Talk about your own experiences and how they relate to your work
If you are mentioning mental health at work, it is more than likely because it is affecting your day-to-day. Think about how it has been affecting you both personally and professionally, and why you think it is important to share. An example can be someone suffering from anxiety, and they are lacking structure in their department (leading to more anxiety) and it is affecting their performance. Being able to share what, why, and how important. (What are you dealing with/going through; why you felt it was important to share and how you can be supported moving forward)
4. Make it an ongoing conversation, normalizing it within your workplace
The more you talk about mental health and “normalize” it, the easier it should be for you to bring it up moving forward. Having open communication will not only help you but can also help leaders understand the best way to manage you or work with you directly. Being honest about your mental health should open communication both ways, leading to building trust as well. Identifying mental health concerns does not make you weak, but instead shows you are strong and want to find a solution.
5. Do not be afraid to ask for a mental day off or other solutions to help you
This is someone overlooked, but the reality is that we all need time to breathe and take off. Leaders should be setting the pace for any organization and normalizing taking time off for reasons other than being ill or being on vacation. While a day off may not always help, knowing you have the support from a leader to do so is crucial. In addition to that, it could be other solutions as well from: weekly touch bases to talk about how you have been doing, different work accommodations (like being able to leave early for therapy, etc.)