6 Steps for Successfully Talking to Your Manager About Your Mental Health Concerns

Young woman speaking to manager


April 22, 2024 at 3:8AM UTC
If you feel like your mental health needs require some extra attention that may influence your workflow, you might want to speak with your supervisor or manager about it. As daunting as that may seem, it’s usually better to have a proactive talk than wait until your concerns become full-blown problems that impact job performance. Here are six tips for bringing up your mental health with your manager at work.

1. Start by talking to a trusted colleague.

Before raising the issue directly with your boss or manager, you may find it helpful to talk it out with a trusted colleague or work friend. 
The small act of mentioning the struggles you’re having to them, and knowing they will support you through the process, can be a big help and confidence boost. While you should be clear that you’re not asking them for help, they may have some ideas to implement immediately that can help you at work. 

2. Think ahead if you need to go through HR. 

Who, exactly, in your company should you reach out to first? If you don’t feel comfortable speaking with your boss directly, speak to someone in your Human Resources or People Operations department. 

3. Decide what you want to say.

Determine in advance what you’re hoping to get out of the conversation. 
Are you looking to: 
  • Shift some deadlines? 
  • Take some time off? 
  • Cut your hours down slightly?  
  • Ask about a flexible work schedule, or working from home? 
  • See a therapist during working hours, or alter your schedule for weekly appointments?  
Before your conversation, think of your main talking points. Connect the dots between what you need, how they’ll help you, and how that will make you a better worker. 
Rehearse these highlights with yourself, or someone you trust, to alleviate your nerves and gain clarity.

4. Schedule a meeting at a predetermined time.

This could be arranged by email, shooting over a Slack message, or simply asking “Hey, can we grab coffee and chat for a few minutes?” 
You know your company culture best – let that be your guide in how to request the sit down! 

5. Broach the topic clearly. 

Explain only what you think is necessary. Use concise and specific statements about the impact of your mental health concerns on your work.
Also, emphasize that your levels of productivity and output won’t change. 
You may find it helpful to ask about, or offer, a compromise – e.g., you’ll come in earlier on days you have therapy.

6. Express your appreciation.

Convey your gratitude for your manager’s or HR rep’s time. A concise “Thank you for your time and understanding” is both courteous and professional.
Remember, If you’re appropriately transparent about your needs, your supervisors can help you make the right changes – so that you can get back to working at your very best. It’s a win-win for everyone! 
Ready to start therapy? Check out Zencare.co to find a therapist who can help you navigate the best course of action for your particular mental health concerns and work environment.
Katie DiMuzio, by way of Zencare. Zencare is a free-to-use website that helps people find their ideal talk therapist. Visit Zencare.co to browse a vetted network of top therapists, using criteria like insurance, sliding scale, and specialties. You can also directly book a free assessment call from the Zencare site.

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