Talking about your mental health can be daunting – especially at work.
Fears of being seen or treated differently are understandable.
I was scared that I might be fired, despite knowing that employers can’t do that. I was terrified of bringing up my problems with mental health – even when it started to affect my work.
However one day, after I was unable to stop myself from crying throughout our team meeting, I was asked to stay behind. My manager asked if I was okay and suddenly it all poured out of me. The floodgates had opened.
It was the best thing that could have happened.
Suddenly I had all the support I needed from my workplace. I had frequent appointments with my GP without having to worry about being out of the office too much. They made arrangements for me to talk to a therapist for six weeks through the company health insurance.
But most importantly, they looked out for me.
They checked in with how I was feeling and made sure that I didn’t feel too much pressure if I was low. They made it clear that my health was more important than work.
Once, one of my managers thought that I wasn’t well enough to be in the office but she didn’t want me to be alone in my flat. With my permission, she phoned my parents and asked them to pick me up. It felt like they really cared, and that was so important.
Research has shown that around one in six people will have experienced a common mental health issue within the last week.
One in four people will experience a problem in their mental health each year. These numbers are massive, yet mental health issues are still so stigmatised. But it is getting better.
Last month, the Mental Health Awareness Week was centred around the workplace. Guides have been published that focus on supporting mental health at work. Companies have better support systems that they can put in place now, especially if your mental health problem falls under the Equality Act of 2010.
Despite this, it is still scary to open up about mental health in some environments. I have had jobs where I chose not to disclose my problems with mental health, but it is always better when I do.
It is daunting, it is scary and it is very personal. But it is worth it.