Discussing mental health issues at work

Telling people you work with that you have a mental illness is a personal choice. You may already have discussed your illness with your employer at the job interview.

You are only required to mention a mental illness if it could prevent you from safely and effectively completing the tasks required in your job. This includes your ability to ensure the safety of your co-workers.

Even if you do mention your mental illness to someone at work, they cannot tell anyone else about it unless you give them permission to do so.

Reasons for being open about your mental illness

These days, many people are well informed and understanding about different types of mental illness.

Telling your employer about your mental illness generates trust and an open relationship. It also allows you and your employer to discuss any workplace changes that might help you do your job better. Being open with your co-workers about your mental illness will allow them to be supportive of you. It may also promote teamwork to help you stay positive about your work.

Be aware that it is illegal for your employer, supervisors or co-workers to make upsetting or offensive comments about mental illness. These comments cannot be made to you or anyone else at any time. Such comments should not be tolerated and should be reported immediately (see our page titled What to do if you’re discriminated against).

If you have been upfront about your illness and you become unwell, your employer is likely to be more understanding if you need time off. Your employer will probably also be more willing to make changes to accommodate your needs.

Remember too that, if your illness could reasonably cause a health and safety risk for other people in your workplace, not mentioning it could breach your Work Health and Safety obligations.

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