Mental Health Condition – Telling your Story

One of the most powerful things you can do is talk openly about the personal experience of a mental health condition. Talking about mental health conditions helps to change negative attitudes and stereotypes. You might be surprised by how many of your workmates have also experienced a mental health condition at some point in their life or supported a loved one with a similar experience.

There are some benefits to sharing your story. Sharing your story can:

  • help others experiencing a mental health condition to take action.
  • show that people can continue to work and manage mental health conditions.
  • encourage others to speak openly about their experience with a mental health condition.
  • encourage your employer to make workplace mental health a priority.

Everyone has their own reason for sharing their story. You can talk to your manager about your experience of depression, you also may decide to tell your colleagues to help raise awareness.

There is no right or wrong time to tell others at work. Planning out what you will say with a trusted person – family member, a friend, support worker, or health professional – can help you structure your ideas and the points you want to cover.

If you are thinking about talking to your manager or workmates, 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 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 – How much time will you need for the conversation? What level of detail about your condition are you comfortable talking about?

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:

  • What are your reasons for talking about your condition?
  • Explain how your condition is affecting your ability to do your job – and if it is not having any impact, be clear on this to avoid incorrect assumptions.
  • Are there any particular things your manager can do to support you, 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 stress, bullying or harassment?
  • 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 would like other team members to know about your experience of a mental health condition.