5 Steps to take before discussing your Mental Health at work
Mental Health is a difficult conversation topic to bring up to your boss, especially if it’s about your own wellbeing. It's healthy to have an open dialogue about mental health, whether it be work related stress or a formal diagnosis. However, workplace dynamics and hierarchies add an encompassing pressure to a situation that is already mentally consuming. With this said, it’s important to treat each situation with care and planning because no-two workplaces are the same and when it comes to maintaining a healthy relationship with your job, it’s important to properly assess yourself and the work environment before making a decision.
1. Write down your issues, feelings and how they’re affecting you in the workplace.
Having an objective understanding of yourself and how your mental health is affecting your wellbeing in the workplace gives you an idea of the most prominent issues that need to be addressed.
2. Write a list of ways you think you could alleviate these issues yourself (implement and monitor these).
By trying to work out your own response to your mental health, you will gain a better understanding of yourself and your resulting actions. Changing particular lifestyle routines or approaches to work-related tasks might solve some of the main problems you’re facing at work.
3. Get professional advice or visit your GP. Make sure you take step one and two with you.
You spend more time with you than anyone else and it may be that steps one and two resolve the main issues surrounding your mental well-being and working life. It’s important to take those initial steps seriously before moving on. However, if you find that the problems you’re facing persist, then it’s time to get professional advice. Use the information gathered in the initial steps to help guide your doctor through the exact symptoms. This will make a formal diagnosis easier and accurate.
4. Review your treatment plan, know your medication (if applicable), the side effects, how long they last and plan your work around them.
Your treatment plan will be dependent on your diagnosis and symptoms. It may be that you are prescribed medication by your doctor, in which case, it’s important to be aware of the exact effects this medication will have. Side effects and their length may temporarily affect your ability to work in different ways. So, keeping track of your treatment plan will allow you to assess its success.
5. Assess all steps, track your sleep and food intake, mood, symptoms and the effects at work for two weeks. Adjust your management system accordingly.
The final step is the most important because it will summarise all of the work you’ve put in thus far. We all lead busy lives and you may be surprised at how little sleep you’re getting in a week. Nutrition is also an incredibly valuable aspect to consider because until you have the basics of health and lifestyle in order, you can’t be 100% certain that the symptoms you’re feeling aren’t solvable. After completing step five, you now have the necessary information needed to make an informed and conscious decision on the next course of action. If you feel it will be received positively in your workplace, take this plan and information to your HR team/Manager or someone you have confidence in at work. Explain what you’re going through, your notes, your plan and ask for the support you think will be beneficial.
Mental Health is subjective and two people with the same categorical diagnosis can present very different everyday effects. You know yourself better than anyone and it’s vital that you take the necessary time when taking action. Having an objective understanding of your current state of mind can add some clarity to the real issues present. It will also help you better prepare exactly what you want your employer to know. This is important because you can focus on the most pressing needs first with the aim of finding measures which can ease the pressure. How any individual chooses to treat themselves is entirely subjective, but seeing a medically trained professional will provide an introspective insight and a formal diagnosis. It helps to know exactly what you are finding issues with so as to better move forward with treatment. It will also add to the potential flexibility your employer can offer.