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Talking to your manager

"What do I tell them?" is probably the most frequent question asked by people experiencing stress, anxiety, depression or another mental health condition. Knowing what to say or whether to say anything at all can be a difficult area – often because people are afraid of the reaction such disclosure may receive. But it's also important to avoid generalisations about how a manager will react. Not disclosing can result in problems later on and it’s often the case that talking about it opens up putting support in place.

People do feel uncomfortable talking to their manager about their mental health condition - yet, it may well take more effort to keep hiding something than it does to talk about it. All the same, it’s natural to feel reluctant. 

Trust is important and if you’ve got a good relationship with your manager then that will make a big difference. If it’s not so good or you find it hard to talk to them you may like to find someone else to speak to initially – perhaps a more senior manager, Human Resources, a union representative, a trusted colleague or an independent service. 

Your manager isn’t there to be a therapist or a counsellor  – they have a business to run, a service to deliver. They’re human too and won’t necessarily have any knowledge about mental health so perhaps you can give them some information about your condition to help them understand a bit more.        

Take a look at our film about having conversations at work, Let's Talk.                                   

Our booklet Keeping Well at Work provides more information and guidance on this important topic.

Making Work Work.pdf 

Making Work Work is designed to enable and support discussion about how stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions affects someone at work. It is intended to aid communication, understanding and support – it’s a document to help make work work. It is a living document to be reviewed regularly by both the employee and manager and amended as appropriate (e.g. when there is a change of manager or role). It can be used as a short term or long term measure.


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