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Should You Tell Your Employer About Your Depression?


Should You Tell Your Employer About Your Depression?

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Mental health issues like depression can be debilitating. Anyone who has experienced clinical depression knows that there is a difference between the occasional sad mood and feelings of deep despair. Often, these feelings of depression can hinder a person from being functional at work. However, because depression has such a huge stigma, it is common for someone suffering to fear telling their boss about their depression. Still, what if depression is getting in the way of your career? Should you let your employer know?

It takes an incredible amount of energy to hide depression from friends and family. It can take even more energy to hide grief at work. As a result of depression, a person may start showing up to work late, becoming more sluggish and less productive. Over time, these behaviors can hinder a person from progressing forward in their career. They may miss out on opportunities because of the criticism of their behavior. If this sounds like you, telling an employer about your mental health issues could be the only way to save your position.

If depression is hindering you at work, hiding it will not help you get better.  You must be proactive in getting treatment for your depression. However, whether or not you should tell your employer about your depression is a highly personal choice. It depends on the position you work in and the relationship dynamics present at work.

There can be very valid reasons to tell your employer about your depression.

5 Reasons to Tell

  1. Discussing your condition allows you and your employer to develop a strategy to help you continue working and assist in your recovery.
  2. You may be able to make adjustments to your schedule or workload to help assist you your recovery. You may consider going to work at a later time or working at home, if feasible.
  3. Through sharing your experience, you can help change people’s attitudes. Those you work around may become more compassionate and understanding to your situation.
  4. If your performance and productivity have changed, telling your boss and colleagues means they will likely be more considerate and understanding if you have the occasional bad day.
  5. If you need to make a formal disability discrimination complaint at a later date, telling your employer will help to protect your rights.

5 Reasons Not to Tell

  1. Your depression does not affect your work performance. Therefore telling your employer about your depression issues may be unnecessary.
  2. You may not need any adjustments to your workload or schedule at the moment.
  3. You are worried about potential discrimination, harassment or reduced opportunities for career progression because of your depression. Depression is very commonly stigmatized so these concerns are valid. For some, depression and anxiety may pass but the stigma received at work may be permanent.
  4. Some employers fail to provide adequate levels of support or follow legislative requirements.
  5. You may already be receiving adequate support outside of the workplace and might feel there is not much to gain from talking about your condition.

As you can see, telling your employer about your mental health condition is a complicated decision. However, if your depression is getting in the way of your productivity, telling could be the only way of protecting your position at work. If you tried everything and feel that your depression is getting in the way of your job, telling your employer may be the only option.

Remember, you are not legally required to tell your employer about any mental health condition you have unless there is a risk to yourself or others. If you do tell your employer, they have a legal responsibility to maintain your privacy and protect you from discrimination in the workplace. They also should make reasonable changes in the workplace to accommodate you.

So should you tell your boss about your depression? It is up to you to decide that. However, there comes a point where enough is enough and hiding your depression can be too exhausting to handle anymore. If that point has occurred, perhaps opening up about your challenges will help you on the path to recovery.If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588.

Author: Shernide Delva


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