How to Talk to Your Boss About Mental Health?

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    Work stress, a toxic working environment or personal issues can all contribute to poor mental health. This, in turn, can negatively affect your job performance, leading to even more stress. Fortunately, great progress has been made on the importance of mental health. There is more support and understanding about this condition given recent awareness campaigns and education. However, many people still struggle when it comes to communicating their need for support for mental health issues, especially in the workplace. Bloom Financial Services and Momentum Health4Me discuss the impact of mental health in the workplace and explain how to talk to your boss about mental health.

    The impact of work on your mental health

    There are several types of mental health issues that can develop due to job-related stress or because of a toxic work environment. Some of these include:

    • Anxiety. This may present as fatigue, difficulty concentrating and excessive worrying about things that are beyond your control. 
    • Depression. This is one of the most common mental health concerns and can present as a lack of interest, inability to complete simple tasks, poor social interactions and reduced decision-making capabilities.

    Why it’s important to talk to your boss about mental health

    Companies have realised that promoting good mental health is important because it allows staff to cope better with work-related challenges. Good mental health keeps both individual workers and teams agile and productive. An environment that is supportive of mental health issues lets employees grow in their roles and boosts morale and staff retention. Many companies now have dedicated corporate wellness programmes to encourage mental health awareness and work performance. 

    However, despite the progress made, there remains a stigma attached to having mental health issues, however common these may be, and many people refrain from speaking about this, putting their health, jobs and livelihood at risk.

    How to talk about your mental health in 5 easy steps

    Firstly, it’s important to note that you’re not obligated to disclose any personal particulars about your mental health condition, unless it has serious work-related implications. Remember, you cannot be penalised or discriminated against because of your mental health, especially if you’re requesting support. 

    If you’re not comfortable revealing the entire diagnosis and details, you can simply request “a day off to manage your mental health.” However, if you do want to engage in an open discussion with your boss and are wondering how to ask your boss for a mental health day, here are some recommendations when it comes to addressing your mental health concerns with your line manager, or even an HR practitioner:

    1. Timing is important

    It’s a sensitive subject and you want your boss’s full attention so don’t pick an inopportune moment when he or she is very busy. Factor in how long it might take you to explain your situation. It may even be worthwhile to schedule an official appointment over email so you can be sure of getting some privacy. 

    1. Decide what you want to say beforehand

    It’s advisable to be clear about exactly what you’re going to say to the boss or line manager. If necessary, you can make some notes detailing what you want to discuss in the meeting. Avoid being vague. Rather be direct. For instance, if you’ve been diagnosed with depression, then say so. Don’t use euphemisms like ‘feeling down’ or ‘I’m a bit blue.’ This gives the impression that your mental health isn’t a serious concern. We also suggest that you keep a serious tone, and don’t downplay the issue with humour.

    1. Mention an outcome you’d like to see actioned 

    It’s in your best interest to suggest an outcome. This proactive behaviour will assist your boss and the company, in providing you with the support your need. For instance, you could request some time off to deal with clinical depression. Or you could request counselling services to help you cope better. 

    1. Consider your job and responsibilities

    One of the reasons you’re approaching your boss is that you’re concerned about your ability to perform your job duties, so explain that your current mental state is preventing you from doing so. For instance, you could reveal that depression is leaving you feeling constantly exhausted and distracted, resulting in missed deadlines and below-standard work. 

    1. Encourage a conversation

    Don’t do all the talking. Ask for your boss’s input. A two-way conversation can be very productive. They may ask for more details, like when you were diagnosed with depression or how long you’ve been experiencing symptoms. They may even be in a position to offer advice and suggest supportive resources, like flexible work hours, a new work schedule or a reduced workload until you’re feeling better.

    Addressing mental health in the workplace

    If you believe that a work colleague is suffering from mental health issues, you can facilitate an intervention on their behalf. Take a look at how to support someone with a mental health illness for guidance on how to approach this situation.

    Momentum Health4Me benefits for mental health

    The Momentum Health4Me Gold health plan offers a specialist benefit under the day-to-day health insurance cover, which includes psychiatric visits. Each consultation is limited to a maximum of R1,000 (R2,000 per member, per year). In order to make an appointment with a psychiatrist, you must first obtain pre-authorisation by getting a referral from your GP.  Bloom and Momentum Health4Me understand the need for mental health services, and so have provided members with access to confidential, multilingual counselling support services. This includes support for personal or work-related issues. Members can also download the Momentum Wellness App

    Prioritise your health with medical insurance

    Good mental health is essential for quality living and Bloom encourages members to lead a healthy lifestyle. This means prioritising your health, both physical and mental. Many work environments now support mental health awareness and support programmes, which will make it conducive to talking to your boss or colleagues about mental health issues. Get affordable and comprehensive medical insurance by contacting our office to set up an appointment with a trained consultant.

    Medical Content Disclaimer

    You understand and acknowledge that all users of the Bloom Financial Services website are responsible for their own medical care, treatment, and oversight. All content provided on the website, is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Neither is it intended to be a substitute for an independent professional medical opinion, judgement, diagnosis or treatment.

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