It’s a known fact that mental health problems are quite common, yet despite the fact that many workers are experiencing unmanageable stress, anxiety or depression, few are willing to tell their bosses for fear of the consequences.
The research found that one in five people had disclosed had been sacked or forced out of their jobs. However, employers are only legally obliged to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ (such as flexible working) to support you if they know about your health problems, leaving workers weighing up which is the lesser of two evils.
There are several reasons to be hopeful though. Research shows that unlike a few years ago, employers are now more aware of mental health problems and make more accurate judgments of how many employees suffer from mental health issues. Encouragingly, a majority of employers also said they were happy to discuss mental health with a job applicant.
The law is also more protective. The Equality Act 2010 banned the use of pre-employment questionnaires which force candidates to answer questions about their health and enhanced the protection from discrimination available to people with mental health problems. However hostile the workplace may have been, there are now signs that things are finally moving on.
Sharing your mental health issues with anyone is a personal choice, and involves careful consideration of the pros and cons. On the flipside, yes discrimination does still take place. People who disclose after getting a job offer can have that offer withdrawn, and those who disclose while in work can find they are shown the door. Also, disclosing means you’re likely to be protected by the Equality Act and discrimination against you can be unlawful. Telling your boss gives them the opportunity to be supportive, maybe even offering you flexibility and adjustments that allow you to thrive for years to come.