## How to Strategically Disclose Your Depression to Your Boss
Depression is a mental health condition that affects millions of people every day. One in five people reported having been diagnosed with depression at some point in their life, according to a 2023 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And what you carry inside you at home can follow you to work, too.
### The Impact of Depression on Work
“A lot of the times people just view depression as sadness, and they don’t necessarily understand how all of the other symptoms also negatively impact your work,” said Nevada-based clinical psychologist Tanisha Ranger. She cited insomnia, memory problems, low concentration and motivation, and increased irritability as some of the symptoms that could be affecting your capacity to work under depression.
### The Ideal Workplace Environment
In an ideal world, you could have an open line of communication with your boss about the internal factors that are affecting your ability to get work done. Psychologist and career coach Lauren Appio said, “The world I want us all to live in is one where sharing that you’re depressed would simply get you whatever support you need at work.” This could include practical support like taking time off, adjusting your schedule, or making changes to your workload.
### The Reality of Stigma
Unfortunately, for too many of us, we don’t work under those ideal conditions. Stigma against mental health struggles is still very real. Only 49% of respondents described their experience of talking about mental health at work as positive, according to a 2021 study from nonprofit Mind Share Partners. Sometimes, though, employees do not have a choice but to disclose.
### Strategic Disclosure
That’s why it’s so critical to be strategic about if, when, and how to disclose your depression to your boss. Here are some tips to consider:
1. **Start by dropping hints to colleagues you feel safe around**: Test the waters and see how your colleagues react to mental health discussions before deciding to share more about your own challenges.
2. **Familiarize yourself with your workplace’s resources**: Observe if your workplace has clear guidelines for accessing mental health-related accommodations and if colleagues have been supported when they sought these accommodations.
3. **Observe how your boss talks about mental health**: If your boss models care and consideration for their own mental health and has been supportive of colleagues who needed accommodations for other reasons, they may be more receptive to your disclosure.
4. **Go in with solutions**: Reflect on what accommodations would help you perform your job better and propose them to your boss. Frame the accommodations as something that will make you a more productive and engaged employee.
5. **Keep your disclosure general, if needed**: If you’re uncomfortable disclosing the specific reason for your accommodation request, you can keep it general by stating that you need an accommodation for a medical issue.
6. **Consider alternative avenues for disclosure**: If your boss is not a safe person to confide in, you can try taking your request to human resources or a different manager. However, keep in mind that the information may not be kept private.
7. **Document your requests**: Keep a paper trail of your informal or formal accommodation requests, including sending follow-up emails to recap any conversations you have with your boss or HR.
8. **Prioritize your mental health**: If you’re unable to get the accommodations you need and your workload is exacerbating your depression, consider leaving the job to protect your mental health as a last resort.
Remember, your well-being should be your primary focus, and it’s important to take steps to create a supportive work environment that allows you to manage your depression effectively.