You are waiting for the right time to talk to your boss about your mental health. You’ve thought of how to make things better at work. You want your boss to know what you are going through and what you need to be successful in your job. Or, it might be “game over,” meaning it’s time to pursue another job that might give you better work-life balance.
For your inspiration, and to give you some talking points, here are three brief stories of people who took the chance to talk with their boss for a better work-life balance:
1) Request Time Off
Leon works in community development while managing his depression. He knows how to work with everyone from the legislators, the reporters and the residents. It’s a stressful balancing act. He has been doing it for a long time and knows how to make a city stronger. With each passing year, he is getting more burned out. He needs some space from the never-ending meetings and never-ending planning.
To find some much-needed personal space, Leon talks to his boss about taking some extended leave after meeting his goals. Leon knows that his loyal team will take care of the projects while he takes time away from the office, so that he can return rested and on top of his game.
2) Ask to Switch to a New Position
Kristina suffers from anxiety. She works 12-hour shifts at a local hospital with only two breaks including lunch. Skilled nursing hours are long because most shifts bleed into overtime. She starts dreaming about her patients at night. She slept-walked around her bedroom to help the patient-figments who were not there. She was taking her work home more than ever.
She admits that she agreed to work a strict 12-hr schedule, but when Kristina notices that these lengthy work jags change her health, ability to sleep, and the emotional toll of the long hours, she is concerned about her health.
She meets with the supervisor and HR to see if she can be switched to an administrative desk job where the hours are more flexible. She can do some of the work like scheduling at home. Kristina sees this new role as a way to contribute to her team who continue to help the patients on the floor.
3) Don’t Accept the Unacceptable: When it’s Time to Move On
Jennifer has been working for the same PR firm for years. She is rewarded with bonuses and yearly salary bumps. The creative, young woman seems like a great fit for the firm until her mother becomes ill and Jennifer suffers from a PTSD episode that is connected to previous losses.
She asks for time off which she has earned. Her boss demands her to be in the office. After meetings with her boss and his supervisor, Jennifer doesn’t receive support to take leave. She also sees HR and is met with the same callous reaction that she must be in the office. Jennifer reaches out to her professional contacts for advice and job leads. Jennifer submits her two weeks’ notice because it is clear that leaving her job is the only option to regain her health and take care of her mother.
Hopefully, your boss is open to talking about your mental health. If you face anything less than support, turn to your human resources department about your concerns and needs. Most HR professionals listen to confidential concerns related to your employment. You could discuss moving to another report or position that might be a better fit. Remember you are valuable. Companies want you to be your healthiest, most productive, creative you.
And, always remember that you are not alone.
Other resources to investigate to learn more about how your job is protected by the law and guidelines: US Department of Labor Fact Sheet on Mental Health and American Disability Act
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