If you’re not feeling well, the first thing you should do is see a doctor. Having a diagnosis can make a huge difference to how you feel and as to whether you may or may not confide in your manager. One thing’s for sure, you have to confide in someone as poor mental health cannot be beaten with a stiff upper lip and stoic attitude. But whether that’s someone inside or outside your company, is entirely up to you.
In the wrong culture, speaking out can be risky. Like it or not, misunderstanding of mental illness is still rife. Opportunities may start passing you by or colleagues may start looking at you differently. That said, you have to imagine that your company clearly cares about your mental wellbeing otherwise why would they be paying for you to read this article?
If you do decide to speak out, an all-staff email is probably not the best way to do so. Better perhaps to try this approach:
- To state the bleeding obvious, make sure you have 100% confidence in the person you confide in.
- Try and choose a time when you are feeling and performing relatively well – although, clearly, this not always possible.
- Tell them you are doing so out of respect for them, the company and your job, not for sympathy.
- Talk over a coffee outside the office away from prying eyes and big ears.
- Don’t use this as an opportunity to unburden yourself as this is better kept for your GP or psychologist. Just try and stay unemotional.
Over the last decade, I’ve confided in quite a few colleagues about my bipolar, and each and every one of them has been spectacularly good about it. Most have asked how they could help. Some, in return, have talked their own mental health issues, grateful for the chance to speak openly with a fellow traveller. Confiding isn’t for everyone. It took me 30 years of working life to find the right time.
This article from the Guardian takes an interesting look at ‘coming out’ in the workplace:
And this one from Headspace explores the pros and cons: