Whilst this is my view I must stress that everyone has a different set of circumstances and I admire anyone who has the courage to have this conversation. There still is a stigma.
There are many fantastic videos showing how common this illness is. But this should be used as a source of confidence. For a manager to not at least try to understand is incredibly ignorant given that we see the likes of Prince Harry, William Duchess of Cambridge pushing for positive change.
Being prepared to have this conversation is really important but remember you are not alone, almost one in three people have experienced mental health problems while in employment.
There is a law relating to this topic, Mind have put together a fantastic template letter here that you can send to your employer if this is an easy start.
The important paragraph to have your working schedule adjusted , if you think this can help:
I understand that the Equality Act 2010 says that employers have a duty to take positivesteps to ensure that people can access and progress in their employment by makingreasonable adjustments for disabled employees when a person is at a substantialdisadvantage compared with an employee who is not disabled.
In addition, these statistics are useful for the business to understand the impact making changes can have:
- Mental ill-health is the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK, costing an average of £1,035 per employee per year
- 95% of employees calling in sick with stress gave a different reason
- FTSE 100 companies that prioritise employee engagement and wellbeing outperform the rest of the FTSE 100 by an average of 10%
The support for someone suffering or recovering from any illness must not stop. Whilst it often takes a personal experience and some learning to understand what someone might be going through, mental health is no different to any other illness.
Those recovering can also suffer extreme tiredness and this is no indication that they are not capable of their job but conditions might need to be adjusted.
Unfortunately what makes this even more challenging is that 85% of people surveyed by developing people globally in 2017 believed that there is still a stigma still attached - hugely shocking. So if you are in management, think about how you can create a far more open environment to encourage more of your team to approach you.
Things are looking up, I love the movement Heads Together and Time To Change. Leveraging Influencer Marketing such as those in the video below, really helps normalise and bring this up the priority list.
My advice to anyone in a position of leadership is to educate themselves (this involves speaking to others, reading (lost connections is a good starting point), watching YouTube channels like below, believing and listening) and then spread this message across the firm.
Publicly the effects of the illness are often invisible but they certainly are not for those individuals effected or those around them.
If you read this and would like to talk I am also delighted to do so. Equally if you are in management and want to make a change. Head over to Time To Change and Sign the Pledge. From here your senior and junior colleagues can become champions within your firm and ultimately empower those who need the support.
If you are applying for a job there are certain things that can and cannot be asked. Mind have an updated list here. Well worth a 5 minute read.