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5 Top Tips to Employees on Opening up about Mental Health

Published 3rd October 2017 by Charlotte Smith

It can often feel like we spend as much time in the office as we do at home, and as much time with work colleagues as we do with our own families. This can be great for those of us lucky enough to work in a supportive and friendly environment, but for others who aren’t so lucky, this fact can cause concern and stress, particularly when it comes to discussing health and wellbeing.

The mental health charity Mind suggests that every year, one in four of us will experience a mental health problem. If we apply this number to the average workplace, it’s likely that some of our peers and colleagues are dealing with a mental health problem at this moment.

There are many reasons why you might not want to share your mental health concerns with your workplace and for some people the thought of sharing might be more stressful to share than to work through in private. However, if the thought of discussing your problem makes you feel more positive about moving forwards, then below we’ve outlined some tips that might help you take the first step:

  1. Consider whether you want to share the fact that you’re dealing with a mental health problem. Do you feel that sharing your problem would be a relief? If the answer is yes then it’s time to seek support from your organisation.
  2. Decide who you feel most able to talk to in your organisation. It might be that you’re particularly close to a colleague or team. Speaking to those you feel most comfortable with first might help make further discussions easier.
  3. Communicate how you’re feeling and how this is impacting your work. Once you’ve made the decision to be discuss your mental health problem, it’s useful to think about how it’s affecting your approach to work. Do you feel less engaged with your job and if so, why?
  4. Strategise ways that your workplace could help. If the answer to number three is ‘yes’, it’s time to think about changes your managers and team mates could implement to make you feel more engaged in your work. Would it help to talk to a manger about flexible working? Is there a particular element of your work causing you undue stress? If there’s a way that management can tailor your role to reduce stress then it is worth having the discussion.
  5. Continue the dialogue even after the above points have been actioned. Feeling that your mental health is a key priority in the workplace comes down to making sure that the dialogue continues after the above points have been actioned. Indeed, updating managers and colleagues and keeping the discussion open will mean that no one takes it for granted that the problem is solved.

As daunting as it can be, taking the first step and opening up to someone in your organisation- whether it be a peer or manager- could help support you and your mental health in the long term. Of course everyone is different and it’s down to you to decide how to support yourself, but even by taking a couple of points from above, you could evolve your working experience into one of consistent awareness and consideration for mental health.