What Happens When People Reveal Their Mental Illness to Their Boss?

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This is the second part in a series about revealing mental illness at the workplace. The first part, “What Happened When I Told My Boss I Was Struggling With Mental Illness,” tells my story.

Joseph RauchStaff Writer @Talkspace, Aspiring Author twitterlogotransparent

May 17, 2016

Original Article Published on HuffingtonPost.com

For some employees, telling their boss or co-workers they struggled with mental illness was one of the best career decisions they made. For others it was the beginning of a short path toward being fired or forced to resign.

When employees deal with mental illness, they sometimes need to tell their boss or co-workers so they can work out a special arrangement such as different hours or time off. The discussion also provides them the opportunity to explain symptoms that might affect their performance or behavior around the office. Sometimes they only want to open up to co-workers to bond and deepen their working relationship.

Because of the stigma of mental illness, people often assume this can only have negative consequences for employees. The risk, however, is better than waiting for the burden to destroy their career.

It’s not as black and white as keeping the job or getting fired. The stories in this article show a range of outcomes of disclosing mental health conditions in the workplace.

The Employee Keeps the Job, But It’s More Complicated Than That

Based on the stories collected for this article, here are some of the positive outcomes and ways bosses will support employees with mental illness:

  • Allowing short periods of time off with pay
  • Allowing long periods of time off without pay but guaranteeing job security
  • Creating a new position with hours and tasks the employee can handle
  • The conversation can make co-workers and employers closer

Even when these positive outcomes happen, the situation isn’t perfect or free of stress.

 

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