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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness
Work and mental health

Talking to your employer about your mental health

Take time to think about what you want to say, to whom and when.  You may want to involve other people in the discussion. These could include:

  • those involved your healthcare
  • the occupational health service
  • your staff or trade union representative. 

Make sure you are clear about your employer’s policies on mental ill-health and disability. Your employer cannot tell anyone else about your mental ill-health without your express and, preferably, written permission. 

It can be difficult to negotiate all this especially if you are feeling unconfident or unwell. 

  • If you don't say anything, your employer (and your colleagues) may not be understanding if your health starts to affect your work.
  • If you do tell your employer, they may be able to make practical changes to your work or workplace that support you both to work and stay well.  

Resources

MIND guide to surviving working life: Staying in employment

Alison Cobb and Kaaren Cruse, MIND 2007

This booklet is a comprehensive guide to strategies to stay in work, or to make decisions on when to step back from paid work until the time is right.  It includes information on managing your mental health at work, getting support from employers and mental health services.  

NHS Employers: Health work and wellbeing: stress and mental health

NHS Employers have produced a range of advice for NHS organisations on employment issues related to the mental ill health of staff.

RETAIN

RETAIN is a national job retention service run by the Richmond Fellowship which aims to maximise the chance that an employee with mental health conditions (including stress, anxiety and depression) maintains their employment when problems arise.  RETAIN Employment Advisors give one on one confidential support, information and guidance.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and MIND

The guide, Managing and supporting mental health at work – disclosure tools for managers will help employers ensure that how they manage people supports their mental wellbeing and resilience, and also encourage more employees to talk about any mental health issues they may be facing at an early stage.

Time to Challenge: Time to Change

This programme is jointly run by MIND and Rethink.  The website includes an employment issues section with advice and information for employees. 

The Telling my manager’ section includes advice about working with your employer and occupational health services.

Advisory, conciliation and arbitration service (ACAS)

The health, work and well-being section of the ACAS website includes links to information, advice and services provided by ACAS, including a telephone helpline.