Should I tell my employer about my mental health problem?
If you have a mental health problem, you might not want to tell your employer about it because you are worried about confidentiality or how you may be treated. However, if you have a mental health problem that is a disability and you want the protection of the Equality Act, your employer needs to know this.
If you do decide to tell your employer, think about:
- How and when to do it. It can be helpful to have a note from your doctor to help explain your situation.
- How much information you want to give. You don’t have to go into personal details, just focus on how your mental health problem impacts on your job.
- Whom to share it with. For example, the human resources (HR) department may know your diagnosis, but they don't have to tell your supervisor or colleagues.
For more information about telling your employer about your mental health problem, see our pages on how to be mentally healthy at work.
If your employer has asked you questions in the past about your health or disability and you did not tell them about your mental health problem then, and now you do want to tell them, you should get some specialist legal advice. (See Useful contacts for details.)
How do I show my employer that I have a disability?
Sometimes your employer may accept what you say without asking for more information. But, because mental health problems aren’t visible, it may be hard to explain your situation to your employer.
It is helpful to have a note from your doctor or another professional to explain:
- what mental health problems you have
- how they may affect you
- what adjustments might help you to manage your work.
You could also show your employer our information on different types of mental health problems.
What is the occupational health service?
Your employer can refer you to occupational health if you have a mental health problem that is affecting your work or causing you to take time off sick, particularly if this is more than 2 or 3 weeks at once. Occupational health referrals will help your employer understand what adjustments need to be made to support you at work.
Occupational health services may also make an assessment of your ability to do your job. If you disagree with this it is important to get specialist legal advice. (See Useful contacts for details.)
There is also a government funded occupational health service called Fit for Work. Fit for Work offers free, expert and impartial work-related health advice to employers, employees and GPs.
What kinds of adjustments can I ask my employer to make?
If your mental health problem is a disability and there is a feature of your work which is causing you major disadvantage because of this disability, then your employer is under a duty to make adjustment to avoid that disadvantage.
Examples of adjustments you could ask for include:
- changes to your working area
- changes to your working hours
- spending time working from home
- being allowed to take time off work for treatment, assessment or rehabilitation
- temporarily re-allocating tasks you find stressful and difficult
- getting some mentoring.
The adjustments have to ones that are reasonable for your employer to make. Whether a change is reasonable or not depends on the circumstances of each case, but may include:
- if the change deals with the disadvantage
- how practicable it is to make the change
- your employer’s size and financial and other resources
- what financial or other assistance may be available to make the change.