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How Do I Communicate My Mental Health Needs at Work?

Your mental health is important. It keeps you safe, it keeps you happy, and it keeps you healthy. Many people in the workforce feel like they cannot communicate their mental health needs with their boss or colleagues, or believe that trying to do so would be an insurmountable challenge.

You do not have to tell anyone things that you do not want them to know. But if you need space, time, or just feel overwhelmed at work, it may be vital that you communicate your mental health needs to someone. 


Mental Health in the Workplace

Studies have proven time and time again that a stressful workplace can cause a wide range of mental and physical health problems, such as anxiety, depression, stress-induced hypertension and cardiovascular issues, and many other health conditions. For those who struggle with mental health issues outside of the workplace as well, it can be debilitating to the point where one is unable to be productive or function effectively at work. A study published in the Indian Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine confirms that people with stressful jobs tend to have more mental health issues that also manifest into physical health issues.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), mental health support not only improves workplace attitudes but can also decrease an employer’s healthcare costs. As mentioned above, mental health issues like depression and anxiety often cause physical health issues and productivity issues that can be costly. For example, depression reduces cognitive performance by an estimated 35% and causes an inability to complete physical job tasks 20% of the time. 

Only about half of people who report depression at work actually receive depression treatment to control their symptoms, leading us to believe that productivity will increase if depression symptoms are taken more seriously in the workplace. As of today, the CDC reports that employees at high risk of depression outrank the healthcare costs of employees at high risk of smoking and obesity. 


Good Mental Health = A Better Workplace

Many companies have created solutions that give employees time to breathe and be free from the stress of the workplace. For example, some companies give wellness days as part of their benefits package or offer incentives for employees to take time off. Some even provide psychosocial training, health and wellness training, and/or team bonding as a way to establish trust with employees. Companies that show interest in the mental health and well-being of their employees often reap the benefits of increased productivity, better communication among happier colleagues, and better health overall.


How to Talk About Your Needs With Your Boss

Many people opt to conceal their mental health concerns from their workplace due to worries about job security or discrimination. Depending on your job, you may need to talk to your boss or a Human Resources department representative about your mental health needs. When you talk to them, be honest. Tell them in plain terms about your concerns and how they are affecting your work. Be careful not to reveal too much personal information or cross any boundaries. 

Here is a brief script provided by the CDC that can be used to help show your boss that mental health policies are a huge benefit to your company: 

Mental health, stress, and anxiety about work are things that I’ve noticed in my workspace and company-wide. I’d like to talk to you about implementing a mental health policy. This policy can help all employees who struggle with mental health feel validated and safe. As it runs, this policy will increase productivity, decrease health costs, and be an overall benefit to our community. 

We can implement a policy by: 

  • Creating mental health assessment tools for all employees 
  • Offering health insurance with low or no out-of-pocket for depression care and mental health counseling
  • Providing free or subsidized lifestyle coaching, counseling, and self-management programs
  • Distributing materials that point employees in the right direction for mental health services
  • Hosting seminars and workshops that address mental health and stress management techniques 
  • Creating and maintaining spaces for meditation or quiet activity
  • Providing managers with training to help them recognize signs of mental health issues 
  • Encouraging employees to seek mental health counseling 
  • Giving employees opportunities to participate in decisions that affect job stress

These policies can increase revenue for the company by increasing productivity and decreasing healthcare costs. I hope we can work together to make this happen at our workplace!”

Always remember, there is no shame in speaking up or needing change to benefit your mental health.


Mental health in the workplace is important, and your health is a valuable asset to your company. Increasing your happiness means that you can thrive at work and that you will have a lower risk of the physical complications that poor mental health can bring. If you are suffering from mental health issues or addiction, call RECO Intensive today. At RECO Intensive, we understand that work stress can be incredibly difficult to deal with. Our professional staff and experienced alumni are here to guide you through your personalized treatment experience. At RECO Intensive, we offer a myriad of therapies to help you learn coping skills that you can stick with and use in the workplace. We are ready to teach you strategies for stress management, addiction management, therapy, and anything else you may need to thrive in your workplace again. Call us at (561) 464-6533. Let’s get back to a brighter future. 

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