Telling your employer

Discussing an issue with your employer can often cause hesitation. When the topic for discussion is your mental health and how it’s affecting your performance at work, it is understandable that you may be feeling a little anxious.

Many employees fear that, once they open up about something that is affecting their role, especially their own mental health, they will be seen as weak or unable to fulfil their role, resulting in demotion or even dismissal.

The truth is, an employer has a duty of care to all employees. You do not need to go into detail about your trauma, but by opening up about a diagnosis and the challenges you are facing on a daily basis, solutions can then be discussed and reasonable accommodations can be made to help make your working day more manageable.

Read about how employers can offer support to individuals suffering from PTSD here.

You may not know where to start, or what options could even be available to you. But considering what could help you is a great place to begin.

Preparing to speak to your employer about your condition could be stressful. Trying to remember everything you need to say could prove difficult, especially if you are experiencing concentration or memory issues. Try writing down a list of things that you find challenging. Seeing them in front of you can have powerful benefits and can help you to clarify your goals and intentions.

We have listed some ideas of what to include in your list.

– What are your challenges?

– Which parts of your role are being affected?

– Would a change of workspace help?

– What are your triggers and how could you avoid/limit being triggered?

– Could a flexible working day help, maybe with longer hours but more breaks?

– Would working from home sometimes help?

– Will a change of responsibilities help?

– Would wearing headphones to block out noise and distractions help?

– Maybe working with a specific team member could help?

– How about limiting/not working with a specific team member?

If you are suffering from PTSD, or a related mental health condition that is affecting your work and causing you to take time off, your employer can refer you to Occupational Health. A therapist may assess how your mental health is impacting on your role and could discuss reasonable adjustments with your employer.

Fit For Work is also a great option for advice. Set up as a government funded initiative, it offers free, impartial advice to both employees and employers about health and work.

However you choose to discuss your mental health and the challenges you are experiencing in work, just remember that you do not need to keep it to yourself. Only by asking for help, can you receive it.