Job Search & Career Advice

Here’s How to Talk to Your Manager About Mental Health

We all need to focus on our own well-being. Mental health should be prioritized and not something that gets ignored if something feels “off.” Paying attention to your mental health while balancing a career is important. Many companies have implemented practices to help employees focus on their mental well-being. However, for some employees who don’t have access to work-related mental health resources or don’t know what’s actually available to them, asking for help can be a challenge. According to Global Newswire, “47% [of workers] know what mental health services they can use when struggling with a mental health concern, but only 38% would be comfortable using their company’s services for a mental health concern.” 

If you’ve been struggling with your mental health lately, having conversations could help you manage your stress more effectively and give you the time and space to take care of yourself. Ignoring the situation does not do you or anyone else any good. In fact, the CDC says that depression interferes with a person’s ability to complete physical job tasks about 20% of the time and reduces cognitive performance about 35% of the time, which means mental health issues can negatively impact performance and productivity along with engagement and communication.  

Approaching Your Manager to Talk About Mental Health – 5 Tips 

Starting this conversation may feel intimidating but take a deep breath. This is the first step in taking care of your mental health. 

Tip #1: Prepare for the conversation 

Before you head into your meeting, you will want to prepare for the conversation. Think about what outcome you want from this conversation. Longer deadlines because you need more time to complete your work? Flexibility in your schedule? Or simply time to chat about an ongoing issue or better ways to manage stress. Going in with a productive mindset and prepared agenda will help you achieve what you want from the meeting. 

Tip #2: Be clear and honest 

This meeting is your chance to convey to your manager how you have been feeling. Be clear and concise about what you want and need. It’s okay to be a little vulnerable but only share what you’re comfortable with your manager knowing. For example, it’s okay to explain that you have stress at home without having to review every personal detail. Sharing information in an open and honest way will help your manager get a better idea of what’s going on and how they can help you. If you’re having a problem outside the scope of the workplace, your manager or HR department can likely help refer you to appropriate resources. 

Tip #3: Find the right time 

How is your relationship with your manager? This will determine the kind of chat you will want to have. Find the right time in the day or week when you and your manager are not preoccupied with other projects. You want to set aside time to focus on this meeting, so if it’s away from the office or somewhere private (away from your colleagues) it will be easier to focus on the conversation. 

Tip #4: Discuss goals and responsibilities 

During the meeting you might need to bring up your responsibilities, all your ongoing tasks, and your goals for the year. It’s important to discuss this to see where you are finding challenges, where you can be helped, and other ways your manager can support you if you are feeling overwhelmed. Take time to reflect and figure out what changes need to be made so you can continue to succeed in your role. 

Tip #5: Have ongoing conversations 

Mental health conversations should be ongoing and discussed in a way that isn’t uncomfortable. Everyone in the office should feel empowered to take care of their own mental health and know that it’s okay to have these conversations, especially during a challenging time. Additionally, you must make sure you are taking care of yourself outside of work, by exercising regularly, eating healthily, spending time with loved ones and pursuing activities that reduce stress and bring you joy. 

Your Mental Health is Important 

Taking action now is important. Don’t allow the stigma or other pressure to affect your need to share what’s happening with your manager. Remember, you don’t have to tell your manager everything or overshare what’s going on in your personal life. Share what you need to share in order to get the support you need to improve your own productivity, focus and engagement.

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