Should You Disclose Depression To Your Employer?

Illustration for article titled Should You Disclose Depression To Your Employer?

"If I had diabetes I would probably tell my company," Sandy says. "But I've never told them this." By "this," she means the fact that she suffers from depression.

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Today, CNN tackles a huge question: If you're suffering from depression, should you let people at your job know?

As the piece by Health.com's Anne Harding points out, happy employees are productive employees. So it's in a company's best interests to make sure workers get what they need to be healthy — mentally and physically.

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The problem, of course, is that a stigma surrounds mental illness. Depending on the atmosphere and environment you work in, disclosing depression (or bipolar disorder, or any kind of mental illness) can seem like asking for trouble. Your coworkers may see it as an excuse; your boss may think of you as weak, and you might even be the subject of gossip. Of course, this shouldn't be the case. But who hasn't worked at a company where acting human — instead of like a cog in the machine — was viewed as a flaw? Any kind of personal issues were frowned upon; nothing mattered except the work.

The thing is: The more people admit to depression and other mental illnesses, the faster these conditions would lose some of the stigma. And if your job is part of what's making you depressed, well, at least take comfort in knowing we've all been there.

Depression In The Workplace: Don't Ask, Don't Tell? [CNN]

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DISCUSSION

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I tell if there's a reason to tell, and don't if there's a reason not to. If I'm telling anyone, it's HR and my immediate supervisor. They're the only ones who would need to know.

I tell if I think that my depression is going to affect my work. I've been managing this thing long enough to have a sense of when an episode is going to break up through the meds. I find it's a good pre-emptive measure to tell my supervisor why I may miss days or seem scattered in the next little while, and to assure her that I've been through this before and will get my work done... and then tell HR that I've told my supervisor, so that I'm somewhat protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. I'm not asking for anything beyond reasonable accommodation — in this case, flexibility with deadlines where feasible — but I like to make sure my ass is covered.

Otherwise, it's no one's damn business.

That said, I do occasionally mention my depression in casual conversation with coworkers. I'm usually an easy person to work with, so I want them to know that if I start snapping at them or needing to be repeatedly reminded of things, it should pass. If it doesn't, I might have been replaced by an evil twin or a really bitchy alien, and they should act accordingly. (Plus, y'know, I'm confronting stigma and misconceptions and all that.)