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Explains how you can be mentally healthy at work, giving practical suggestions for what you can do and where you can go for support.
If you're experiencing a mental health problem that is impacting your working life, it can be tricky to know what action to take. But there is support available to help you in the workplace. This page covers:
Remember: if you are considered disabled (as defined by the Equality Act) because of your mental health problem, you have specific rights in relation to getting support at work. See our pages on discrimination and discrimination at work for more information.
If you have an ongoing mental health problem, or are struggling with your wellbeing, you may feel unsure whether to tell your employer or not. You might experience barriers such as:
The possible benefits of talking about your mental health at work include:
Telling anyone about your mental health is a personal choice – there is no right or wrong answer. However if your mental health problem is considered a disability within the meaning of the Equality Act, you will have a right to reasonable adjustments – but to get them, your employer must know about your disability.
"Talking to my employer was very hard because of shame and confidentiality reasons but I was surprised and felt much more supported and understood."
It can be difficult to know how to start the conversation. To make the process easier you may want to think about:
Changing something about your working environment or the way you do your job may help you to stay well and work more effectively. You can make some of the changes on your own. Others will require action or agreement from your employer.
If you're not covered by the Equality Act, it's still best practice for your employer to support you, within what is reasonable for your role. When asking about changes, remember that you are the best judge of what you need.
What will be helpful for you will depend on what sort of work you do, and what sort of things you find difficult. You might want to ask about changes like:
"My employer understands exactly what it is I'm going through. They help and support me any way they can. I'm one of the lucky ones."
If you have a diagnosed mental health problem, think about what specifically could help you with the problems you experience. Your employer might refer you to an occupational health advisor for advice on how best to support you. For ideas and tips on coping, see our self care information for different mental health problems.
If you are too unwell to work at the moment, you may need to take some time off from work. Sickness absence for your mental health is just as valid as absence for physical health problems. Taking time off does not mean that you won't ever go back to work.
If you are off work for more than seven days in a row, you will need to get a 'fit note' from your GP or hospital doctor. In most cases, you are entitled to statutory sick pay from your employer for the first 28 days that you are off sick. For more information, see the government website on taking sick leave.
Your employer should support you when you are ready to return to work. Take a look at our page on returning to work.
This information was published in April 2016. We will revise it in 2019.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.