May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and if I had the time, I would have written blog posts at least three times a week for this month. I am quite busy at the moment, so let me strive for at least once a week. I should be writing once a week regardless of the month or time of year. However, I do want to discuss something significant. Many people who suffer from depression or any other mental illness don’t know if they should tell their bosses or clients/customers if they are freelancers or other business owners.
My question to those who don’t know if they should share anything to do with their mental illnesses is – why? If that is you, then what makes you hesitant to share? Oh, wait, the stigma. That is what it is. If you want the stigma to end about depression and any mental illness you have, you are responsible for spreading awareness. It is as simple as that. It may be simple, but I know it does not mean it is easy.
How Can You Tell Your Boss Or Client That You Suffer From Depression, Anxiety, Or Other Mental Health Disorder?
I understand that when you tell your boss or clients/customers about your mental illness, it is not something that you can casually bring up over a cup of coffee or right after a Zoom meeting. It would be best if you planned to have the discussion. It won’t be an easy discussion to have for you. Therefore, you must find a day and time that will be ideal for you and your boss or client to discuss this significant issue. All you need to do is tell them on the phone, text, or email that you have to have a critical discussion about yourself with them and tell them it will not be an easy one to discuss. It is a meeting that you cannot have over text or email. It must be face-to-face or via Zoom. If you approach it that way, they will look for the best time for them to speak.
You don’t want to choose a day when you are crunched for time because of tight deadlines or when you have to deal with family issues or personal issues. However, you want to make sure that your boss or client will choose an ideal time for them. Unfortunately, there might be personal issues happening in their lives that can interfere with their choices when they want to talk. However, that is up to them as far as finding the best time to speak. Eventually, you will find the right time to discuss the issue. Once you find the time, you will want to:
Prepare Your Speech
You don’t need to write or type your speech on cue cards. However, you will want to rehearse what you plan to say privately on your own before the meeting. You can collect professional websites about depression (or the mental illness you have), such as ones from WebMD, as well as other important and professional websites. You can either print out the pages or put the links to the websites in an email draft and tell your client or employer that you will send them an important email containing informative links about your mental illness to medical sites.
When you prepare your speech, you want to ensure that you appreciate your boss’s understanding or clients’ understanding and support. You also want to clarify that your depression or mental illness does not affect your performance in any way. It does not change your ability to do your job. You don’t want to get into the details of the dark parts of your suffering either, as you want to keep your speech short and to the point.
Towards the end of the conversation, you can hand them the printouts or tell them that you will send them an email containing links to the medical websites about your mental health condition. You will get a positive response from the meeting. You may even learn that your client or boss also struggles with a mental illness, and they may appreciate you coming forward. If you receive judgment, you will want to look for another client and begin looking for another job. Besides, discrimination towards mental illnesses and disabilities is illegal.
That is all you need to do when you want to tell your clients/customers or boss about your mental illness. Firstly, remember one thing. If you had a physical disorder such as a kidney disease where you’d have to go for dialysis several times a week, you would have to tell your boss. You may have to leave work early at times which is an accommodation that you would need in that scenario. Telling them about a mental illness is no different because it is still an illness, and you will require other supports.
Besides, you want to work in a safe environment if you do not work from home. The only way to create a safe environment at the office or anywhere you work is to make it known to your employer that you have a mental illness and you have certain needs as a result. Additionally, knowledge is power, knowledge shatters the stigma even more, and you may encourage your coworkers to come forward as well about their struggles with mental illness.