Mental health and work

You might not want to discuss your mental health with your manager or work colleagues but you might need some support when working. This could mean counselling, mentoring or reasonable adjustments in the workplace.

Reasonable adjustments

A reasonable adjustment can mean a physical change to a building, for example installing a ramp for a wheelchair user.

There are no definite rules about what is a 'reasonable' adjustment. Some examples for an employer to consider include:

  • can you work flexibly by starting and finishing later? For example, some medication can make you sleepy in the morning, your employer might agree your working day begins later
  • can another employee do some of your tasks for the short, medium or long-term?
  • can a colleague help you? It might be useful to talk to a colleague weekly, daily or when needed when work seems difficult
  • is there a place where you can take a break if you need to?

Help while in work

Counselling

Some larger companies offer services like counselling to employees, free-of-charge. This is often run by an outside company that supplies face-to-face or telephone counselling sessions. All conversations or calls are confidential. Your employer can't ask the counselling company what you talk about or how often.

Companies that provide this service will have different procedures for getting this help. For more information ask your Human Resources (HR) department, your union representative or a colleague.

Some HR departments have people who are trained to listen to employees as a counsellor. If you do not have an HR department, your doctor (GP) can tell you about counselling services in your area.

Mentoring by another employee

Some larger companies have mentoring schemes. This is when you are partnered with a person, usually a senior person in a different part of the company, who can talk to you about aspects of your work.

Companies have different ways of doing this, but you may meet your mentor once a month and talk about any problems or issues you have with staff, working patterns or workload.

The mentor will usually be able to advise you on how to deal with these issues without being directly involved.

Review meetings

You may have regular 'catch-up' or review meetings with your manager. You could use this time to talk about any problems you are having at work.

Family and friends

Talk to family and friends about problems you have at work. They may be able to offer practical solutions.

If you need time off

If you take time off, keep in contact with your employer, or ask someone else to do it for you. Let them know how long you are likely to be off.

When you are ready to return to work, you could also ask your employer if you can:

  • work up to your former hours - for example, work a few days a week until you are confident working full-time
  • have more feedback to provide reassurance and reduce any anxiety you may have
  • meet more often to look at your workload and help prioritise and set agreed deadlines

Discrimination

If you feel you have been discriminated against because of your mental health problem you may have a case under the Disability Discrimination Act.

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