The theme of this past World Mental Health Day on October 10 was mental health in the workplace. We’ve all heard of taking a sick day for the sake of a physical ailment, such as a cold, but what about mental illness? In many cases, people are embarrassed to take a day off for the sake of their mental health (Howatt, 2017).
Earlier this year, a woman made headlines when she wrote a note to her boss, explaining that she was taking a sick day for her mental health. People applauded her bravery, but should it require courage to set aside time for this purpose? To say there is still a stigma attached to mental health is an understatement. However, this doesn’t mean mental health should go ignored. Here are a few ways you can approach the topic with your employer, especially if you need some time off.
- Understand Your Company’s Policies
Many companies are now working mental health into their time-off policies. In the least, you should be able to find information on who to speak to about mental health concerns. Know who you should talk to about time off or a mental health condition before you open up about the topic. Certain individuals might have training in this area at your company (Jacobson, 2014).
- Time Your Message Appropriately
Set aside time to discuss the matter with your colleague, rather than bringing it up on a whim. Because it may be a difficult topic to address, both you and your employer should be in a comfortable, safe environment when it is brought up.
- Know Your Talking Points Beforehand
Consider mapping out your discussion before you have it with your employer. Which points do you want to bring up? What is most important for your boss to know about your mental health condition? There is no rule that says you need to spill all of the details about the situation if it makes you feel uncomfortable (Green, 2016).
- Be Clear About Your Needs
Because you’re opening up to your employer about a sensitive topic, you should have good reasons for doing so – do you want a more flexible schedule? Would it help for you to have a quieter workspace? Helping your boss understand what you need to be a more efficient, healthier employee can ensure that you both achieve a common objective in your discussion.