Informing your workplace
Work can be both helpful and challenging for your mental health. Being engaged in work and feeling successful can be positive, but sometimes it can add more stress. It can even make it harder to perform as well as you normally would.
You may have mental health challenges that are affecting your work or your relationship with colleagues. If so, it might be the right time to talk to your employer. Sharing your experience can help them understand what’s going on for you and what they can do to support you.
Remember that there are anti-discrimination laws in place. This means that your workplace is required to make reasonable adjustments to help you continue to perform effectively.
Reasonable adjustments are changes to a job which can enable you to perform more effectively in the workplace. They should respond to your particular needs or issues, and can include:
- offering flexible working arrangements (for example – variable start and finish times)
- changing some aspects of the job or work tasks (for example – exchanging a single, demanding project for a number of smaller tasks)
- changing the workplace or work area (for example – moving you to a quieter work area)
- buying or modifying equipment
These adjustments should be discussed with you and your support person before they are made. Only you will know what changes will help you the most. You may need to try a few options to figure out what works best for you.
How to have the conversation
You may feel nervous or anxious about sharing these details of your mental health issues with the people you work with. If your workplace has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), that can be a good place to start. Otherwise, you can talk to your manager, human resources, your union, or someone else you trust.
There are some resources and tools that can guide you on how to have these conversations in the workplace: