Should i tell my manager i have depression?

Hands | BloggerWhen I started at my current job, around three years ago, I disclosed my mental health history because I didn’t want it to sneak up and bite me in the backside like it has in the past.

There seemed to be no issues with it at all and for the first year everything went smoothly. Then some of my old problems crept up (aided by some particularly stressful situations at work) and I ended taking time off here and there. However, I was my own worst enemy: those days when I couldn’t face even getting out of bed I called in with “flu” or a “virus”, not admitting my real problems.

After all, how do you tell your manager that you can’t work today because you’re depressed? How do you explain to someone, who isn’t sympathetic at the best of times, that there’s an emotional force field keeping you inside your house?

If I'd been honest would management be more lenient?

After around two years of random absences I’m on my final warning. At my last Sickness Absence Review I explained that I’m currently having a lot of problems and am receiving help from the local mental health team but these were brushed aside because none of the reasons for my days off were down to “mental health”.

I am now struggling to make it into work on a daily basis but I just can’t call in sick. If I’d just been honest then maybe management would be more lenient?

My biggest fear was the reaction of my bosses to my depression

Lying about things definitely makes it worse. It drills a hole that gets bigger and bigger and just can’t be covered up by more lies. I still don’t fully understand why I lied in the first place. I guess the embarrassment and shame of admitting that I couldn’t cope was a big reason but I think my biggest fear was the reaction of the bosses at work.

I had no idea what they’d say or do in my circumstances. I know for certain that the return-to-work forms we use after absences aren’t created with mental illness in mind; you need to be able to put something physical on them. The only part that might seem relevant is the tick box that asks if you’re stressed! It’s like they acknowledge that stress is an actual condition but they don’t want to address it in any way. Unless it’s work-related, in which case they’ll suggest the job isn’t for you anymore.

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Comments

Depression

Illnesses aren't just physical they can be mental.

Coming clean

I had the same battle with myself and I admire you for speaking out about it. It took me a while but once I spoke to my manager about it I felt a weight lifted from my shoulders. My employer had an employee assistance program and a team I could speak to in confidence about it. I spoke to an occupational health adviser a few times over the phone. We completed an assessment and I was offered 3 free counselling sessions along with a report which was issued to my manager. The report didn't mention any personal or private matters but instead focused on what work can do to help me. They were things such as a phased return to work, adjusted shift times and more stable shift patern and access to a private meeting room where i could go and have 5 minutes to myself if I felt under pressure. I felt shy and embarrassed about my mental health and depression but I was pleasently surprised with the reaction I received.

Same boat.

Reading this was like reading my diary. This is exactly the situation I've created for myself, and like you, I don't know how to get out of it. I was always too ashamed, too scared or too anxious to say the real reason so always just said it was flu or a migraine or injury. I think my biggest dilemma is that my manager isn't the most sympathetic like yourself, and that I was scared that if I said I couldn't physically leave my room because of depression or anxiety, that they'd say it wasn't a real medical reason that justified not coming into work. Another thing that held me back was being treated differently, at work I'm the bubbly, smiley an happy employee that always keeps everyone else smiling. I didn't want people to know about my issues and either not believe me because of how I am at work or to then look at me and think 'that's the crazy girl who can't leave her house some days'. The other thing thing that did cause an issue was the return to work process, there was never any option of mention of mental health issues so it put me in a position where bending the truth was the only way? ...

...me too

I can really relate to these posts too. I wish I couldn't, and I don't really know what to do about it. If anyone can offer advice, please help.

Hello, you can find

<p>Hello, you can find <a href="/your-organisation/support-workplace">information about your rights at work</a>&nbsp;on our website and Mind or Rethink Mental Illness' info teams can offer you confidential advice about your situation at work. You can find their contact details here:&nbsp;http://www.mind.org.uk/help/advice_lines and&nbsp;http://www.rethink.org/how_we_can_help/our_advice_information/index.html Kind regards, Ed, Time to Change</p><p>&nbsp;</p>

Same boat.

... My manager did eventually find out about my issues after a major todo with an emergency doctors appointment involving my issues and even then there was no sympathy. I don't want sympathy, just a but of understanding and support when needed. I'd had a doctors note and couldn't come into work that day, and was told by management that 'it didn't matter if my note was from the doctor or God, I'd still get in trouble' this is when I realised that I'm never going to get any support or understanding. Now calling in sick feels like not an option, luckily I haven't been in the position since where I'd have to, but I'm not sure what's going to happen when I am. And I still don't know where I stand with my health issues and work. There isn't anything clear or in black and white telling us how to deal with this so that also makes it hard. I think I may speak to my doctor about the situation, and possibly someone from the company who deals with employee health and well being? I'm not sure. If you have any luck please do tell me!

Honest with employers for my entire work history

I'm always interested when people say they don't know whether to disclose, because I’ve honestly never thought twice. I’ve had bipolar disorder since 11, though for much of my life I lived with an incorrect diagnosis of depression, anxiety & borderline traits. Either way, I’ve had one psych diagnosis or another since I was at university. My view has always been that I'm confident & capable most of the time, but if an employer wants me it’s THEIR RESPONSIBILITY to help me manage my disability at work, NOT my responsibility to hide it & struggle alone. From a manager's POV, I’m sure they’d prefer supporting someone with well-known difficulties than have someone come to them suddenly saying, "Hey, um, I never told you this, but I have a mental health disability, & I need help NOW." I recently lost my job because of a v long & very difficult bipolar episode. But since I had a declared disability & a Reasonable Adjustment Action plan, I was not put through the more punitive aspects of the sickness policy. Instead my employer accepted the Occupation Health provider's assessment that I was v disabled by my condition, & that it was impossible to say when I might be fit to return to work. This meant that my contract was ended by mutual agreement, and I received a lump sum in lieu of notice & a favourable reference with no mention of my sickness record. I’m absolutely certain that I would not have had this outcome had I kept silent about my illness.

Stigma

I wonder where the stigma starts, with Them without the condition or with those of Us who have the condition. Maybe we dont' do enough ourselves to try and combat the stigma by coming clean more often. I was in a similar position, where I was afraid to disclose my issue, but having taken a block of 2 months off as advised by my GP, the issue was out there, without me being around at work to defend myself. Eventually they tried to get me in front of an occupational health person, but they made several mistakes on the paperwork which I spotted and complained about, and the matter was let quietly drop.

Understamding the Diagnosis

I have bi-polar doisorder, buy my boss dodnt understand what it was. I was hardly in a position to explain, and they were asking me what they were supposed to doo with me. I was open with my boss, who had told me, "if you are going to have a bad day, just stay at home", a bit like being swept under the carpet really. I ended up parting company after an "admin restructure" which made my job disappear. I'd worked for them for about 8 years, and felt reaaly dumped. My new job have no idea I have mental health issues. I'm lucky that my meds have kept me relatively stable, with a couple of minor wobbles and changes of meds. I have no plan to tell them, as i am coping well with my job, and basically as long as I g=do my job well, it's none of their business.

May not be as bad as you think

During my most recent episode I put off telling my manager until it was no longer possible to hide what I was going through. I had put it off through fear of what it would do to my career and the fact I felt like a failure and was not capable of doing my job. When I finally did tell her she was understanding, supportive and recognised the fact that I needed some time off work. The problem with depression is that it fills your mind with negative throughts, so you end up thinking the worst will happen if you are open about your mental health problems. I am now more open about my illness and have asked my employer to consider signing the Time to change pledge.

Communicating

It's great to hear people talking about this and I do really wonder about what someone said that we can make it worse for ourselves by hiding it. I think we can spread the stigma - its about how we communicate about mental health (I have bipolar) but I would never use the phrase 'coming clean' as that makes it sound like an addiction which could be self inflicted or dirty and something to be ashamed of. You wouldn't 'come clean' that you have a heart condition for instance. I'm just about to tell my manager about my condition having given myself a few months to demonstrate what I can do so that it doesn't become a focus for how I'm perceived. I do have a bad experience of discrimination from my past but I still feel that the more we're open and honest, the more educated people will be and eventually we can break down the stigma.

I had the same worries when i

I had the same worries when i first started my job but since I have told my manager they have been nothing but understanding! along with all the other members of staff. I think it can be a really hard decision because i have had both positive and negative experiences of disclosure. If you do tell your employer they do have a legal respnsability to support you in any way that is deemed reasonable - such as flexiable hours, being able to take time out in the day if needed ect. Only if they have made reasonable ajustments and they have failed to work and if you are incapable of doing your job can they dismiss you.

Occupational Health

Having read your comments if your company has Occupational Health please contact them We are all qualified nurse and doctor specialists in workplace health. We provide a confidential medical service within the workplace. With your consent we can help advise management of the support and adjustments you may require to help you remain in work. Your manager doesn't need to know the diagnosis or medication you are taking only how it may affect you in the workplace so that they can provide appropriate support and adjustments. You can also contact Access to Work a government agency who can provide help and advice. Hope this helps.

Occupational health recommended

Working as a nurse I was struggling with depression but not really revealing the extent to which as i had seen a negative reaction to a colleague with depression from my manager. The strain of this and other things lead to me having a panic attack before the start of my shift. My manager referred me to occupational health to have my ability to practice safely assessed. This felt very negative to me in the state of mind I was in and it took me a while to engage as I felt threatenened. In actual fact it was the best move ever....not only did I not lose my job (which was my biggest fear) but I received long overdue counselling and help to begin recovery from that particular round of depression. When the next time happens (and experience has told me that I will become depressed again at some stage) I feel equipped to recognise it early and act early but more importantly will be a lot more willing to be upfront and seek help early. Don't be afraid, seek help where you can and if you have an occupational health department please use them.

No help from occ health

I spoke to my former employer's occ. health people. They suggested that the company could no longer support me with my anxiety, and the company found an excuse to lay me off. I was not impressed with either the occ. health team or the company - I felt totally betrayed by both.

Occupational Health

I have depression as was going through a particularly stressful time at work and my doc signed me off work for 2 weeks. I was immediately referred ot occupational health to assess my fitness to do my job, Recomendations were made to my employers, however your employer does not have to follow the suggestions and my employer chose not to. As it did not seem that the organisation wanted to try to support me in any way I conculded they had hoped to gather evidence of my lack of capability in order to get rid of me. Really the whole experience made me feel more inadequate than ever.

depression

I had a breakdown and suffered depression due to loss and change at work and have had several long term absences due to stress. I have had an assessment with OH and am due for another tomorrow. I want them to see I have a mental illness that is preventing me from doing my work and I just don't know what will happen in the event that the OH agrees with me and my own GP..i.e. I am not fit for work....

If only I could talk

I have found it very interesting that people have received such support in their workplaces. Unfortunately I do not feel able to as a result of the makeup of our team: young and predominantly male. I do not wish to suggest that male managers are generally less supportive as I am not a fan of stereotypes but it does create a 'lads' culture in the office. For example, I get a lot of strife if I choose not to drink on a staff night out. I simply cannot believe that they would be accepting, let alone supportive, of my condition. What I have been able to do is to discuss some of the symptoms that I suffer from as a result of my depression such as insomnia. This has been really rather debilitating over the course of the last year and it was definitely affecting my work. When this was raised at an appraisal and I explained the effects of the insomnia I did wish that I had mentioned something sooner as my manager did make supportive comments and suggestions for how I might mitigate the effect on my work. I think the problem is still around the stigma of the word 'depression'. People simply don't understand what it means and how it can affect people. By putting it in terms that they understood (and perhaps had fewer preconceptions about) I have found that I can get support. It is a shame that I cannot speak completely openly but at least the workplace is a little more tolerable.

Kate

Kate, please do tell your manager, u may be surprised at his or her support. If the company does discriminate against you because of your illness then take them on and I would be happy to advise on how. It is only through full transparency that u can get the support you need, rise abovebthevstigma, there is nothing to be ashamed of, you are just I'll, like any other illness....Geoff

Great Support

After having my daughter, I suffered from post-natal depression, when I returned to work, I explained to my manager the problems I had had when on maternity leave, he was very understanding and supportive and allowed me time to talk about how I was feeling in my subsequent supervisions. I had a few days off work due to my depression and was always honest about why, I felt I should trust them and they would then be able to support me. I have since been promoted, before I applied for the post I discussed whether my condition would affect my application with my boss, he asked what brings on my stress, anxiety and depression, I advised, the shifts I was working and lack of money, he then replied that the post would wipe out both these problems. He was right and I feel very stable and totally capable of doing this job. I'm so glad I was honest. However, my partner who has schizophrenia is a chef and since his diagnosis has been out of work. When he felt ready to return, he asked for part time work which he was told would not be a problem, when they asked why there was a gap in his employment, he was honest with them, they acted like this was not a problem at the time, then he received a voicemail advising the part time position was no longer available! This has totally knocked his confidence.

Depression

I have passed this information to my wife who is a HR professional and she is going to initiate the action plan idea with her managers tomorrow morning.

Regret saying anything

I recently was struggling with anxiety and depression and spoke to my boss who I have worked with for several years and trusted. The depression and anxiety was also making my PMS particularly severe which didn't help. The main reason I spoke to him a few months ago was because I needed to explain walking out one afternoon and then having to take a few days off, and because I needed to leave early to attend counselling one day each week. I also was feeling unwell as I'd tried the anti depressants the doctor had given me at the weekend then decided not to take, but gave me nasty side effects for several days. I also tried to explain the impact of the PMS combined with the other issues which was very uncomfortable for me with a male boss. Although he was fairly kind, I didn't feel he understood at all and just said i shouldn't take anti depressants and I should just join a gym to help with the stress. A few weeks ago he told me there was a new more senior position being created but he's not considering me for the role because he thinks it will be too much for me and will cause me stress, and therefore is considering my male colleague who has less experience than me. I now regret saying anything to him and feel like I need to move to another company in order to move up. I would never be that honest with a boss again.

Hi, with all due respect your

Hi, with all due respect your boss is not a qualified medical professional to be telling you that you shouldn't take medication, this is irresponsible on his part. I agree that diet and exercise can help but that comes with motivation and usually depressed people lack motivation. I don't think you should regret telling him the truth, this is highly courageous and I admire you. It is obvious that he may not fully understand your situation, have you thought about speaking to OH about this situation. I am sure you are more than capable of a more senior position but sometimes through other peoples fear they don't want to be reposnsible for anything happening to you and being the boss he may worry about being sued etc. I just think he may need some further information on your case and it may be helpful for you to speak to a professional in Occupational Health. Keep staying strong :) x

depression

I have suffered with depression since I was 18 im now 23, it very hard to tell you work about the way you feel when you suffer from depression and its even harder when they don't understand how you feel. I had the confidence to talk to my ex and current mangers about my mental health and its was amazing because they could understand how i was feeling because they also had suffered or suffering from depression. Health comes before work and just by telling your current work will help you as they can support you :) x

Hard to talk but worth it.

For years I have struggled with depression and struggled to talk about it, I painted on my smile and headed out to work, like you if I couldn't face the day I would phone in sick with flu or a bug until I had a major breakdown resulting in months off work. Then I applied for a new job & I decided to talk to my new potential manager about my depression, explaining my history of sickness and the real reason behind it etc, also I explained about my therapy I had to attend once a week and frequent doctors appointment. She listened, she wasn't phased and just accepted me for who I am. If I'm having a bad day/week I feel like I can take time out to talk to her and say 'I'm not ok', I can go to therapy without feeling guilty, I don't have to make excuses for avoiding certain social situations. Sometimes it's worth speaking up, I know it's difficult and there's alot of stigma attached but we need to break that by speaking up and saying I need support, I'm not ok but I'm here and I'm trying!

I can really relate to a lot

I can really relate to a lot of these posts. Sadly my employers don't seem to recognize depression as an illness but instead choose to treat it as a performance issue! I spent an hour in a meeting with my manager last week intears telling her I'm having a relapse of my depression and my work is suffering because I feel so unwell. This week I've been put on a performance improvement plan as my employers feel my work isn't up to scratch which will turn into a formal disciplinary procedure if they are still not happy in 3 months time. On the bright side this has given me the motivation I need to start looking for another job, hopefully somewhere mental health issues are treated with compassion or at the very least the same as any other illness.

thanks

Thanks for posting this blog. It was so refreshing to read your story as it is very similar to mine. I have had many jobs because I would take time off and lie about the reasons (migraine etc). When the sickness became an issue I would then look for a new job and move on. This has damaged my career and caused me great stress. However in my current job I have been honest. I had some time off last year and explained that I suffer from depression and then met with occupational health. The OH department gave me some time off to recover and that helped ease the stress as I wasnt lying to be off work. However there are still some problems regarding pressure at work but I am still in the job and have managed to get back to a good working pattern. It still isn't easy because I feel that my colleagues look at me as a skiver but I know my boss understands as I have told them the truth. I know my depression is unlikely to go away ( I have suffered for years) but I feel more comfortable now I have told my employer the truth.

Politics in the workplace.

I have suffered on and off of depression my whole life, I'm 24 y/o and this year it started back up but w/ a vengeance. Two weeks ago, I flipped out on my supervisors and brought to light the politics and the bs that goes on when working in a small community health center. I got in big trouble, but my main supervisor was nice enough to have me assessed by the on staff therapist and decided not to press on with punishments as long as I made my proper apologies and began visiting the therapist. This is my 2nd-3rd week visiting the therapist, I see her 2 times per week and its not really helping me with containing my emotions, but rather helping me to allow them to surface and its been very hard. I didn't realize how difficult this was going to be and how depressed I was. Tonight I was thinking about just going to work tomorrow and quitting...I just gave up, but then I read all of your stories and realized that this is a very real problem. And discussing my depression with my supervisors will most certainly help me in the long run. If they aren't understanding, then they'll just have to deal because I can't continue with this, see, its affecting my performance at work. Wish me luck and thank u all.

Telling my employer big mistake

I have suffered with depression from my early twenties but it became much worse after the death of my son in a car crash in 2004 after a complete breakdown, cognitive therapy, and a year on anti depressants I felt ready to return to work very much a changed person. since then I have had several bouts of depression all severe along with some other very unpleasant symptoms. My Doctor referred me to the CMHT team as I had tried most of the available anti depressants and they were not helping.I have now been diagnosed with reoccurring, depressive disorder, GAD, and Panic disorder. I spoke to my line manager (local authority who knew my history )and told him I was unwell but wanted to remain at work if possible. I asked for some minor adaptions to my duties whilst I got used to taking the new medication as it had some difficult side affects. At first he was great and arranged for a OH report to be done. OH advised a risk assessment to prevent any risk of added stress so we had a meeting and I ask that he explained to the rest of my team the problems I was having and how it could affect my behaviour and I may not be aware. I had previously explained this to the team but wanted it made official so everybody felt happy they could bring up any problems should they arise. for the first month the team were great.)My manager never did speak to the team so it was never official. My manager however started to ask me every day how I was feeling and when I told him no change yet he started raising his eyebrows. At the same time around one month after I became unwell the team attitude changed they stopped talking to me ,would blame every mistake on me would huddle in the corner whispering and sly comments. To cut a very long story short My anxiety went through the roof I became paranoid and eventually broke down and told one of the team that I knew what was going on(she had just sent the other team member an email about me which she made a real point of laughing out loud at. And yes I saw the email . I left work right there and then in a extremely distressed state. That was 4 months ago and I have not been allowed to return .I told my manager and his manager why I became so upset and why I said something to my college but they don't want to hear it. My team members then raised a grievance against me for my behaviour when ill which management upheld. I am now suspended pending a disciplinary investigation.They are signed up to mindful employer.

you should be embarrassed to say your depressed

I don't think you should be embarrassed to say your depressed, it's a sickness and last time i checked people who had the common cold aren't embarrassed of their constant coughing, my point is it's a sickness and your boss has no right to punish you for it! :)

Stigma at work

Thank you unfortunately it now looks like I will lose my job not from being sacked they still haven't held a disciplinary hearing they just keep me hanging. Have now had to contact a solicitor within 4 days of them making contact with my employer they had offered me £10,000 in compensation plus a reference compensation for what they did not say why would anybody offer that sort of money to somebody who is supposedly been investigated for gross misconduct? I refused it I would rather expose them for discrimination then take what amounts to 6 months pay and I lose my job whilst the bullies keep theirs.

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