Lately you feel less and less happy. You often feel sad, you have little energy and you experience sleep. On top of that, you find yourself feeling constantly tense and you suffer from unexplained physical symptoms such as a headache, back pain or nausea. You decide to go to the family doctor, and he refers you to a psychologist. The psychologist advises you to take things a bit easier at work, and asks if you can come in every week during office hours. However, how are you going to talk about this at work? Will they take you seriously? You are not ‘really sick’, right?
Unfit for work
It is not so long ago that people with psychological problems were declared unfit for work almost automatically. There are still many prejudices about people with psychological complaints or disorders. It is being said that they do not handle their work well and are ill often. In this way, you are doubted as a person. It is therefore quite logical that many people still prefer not to talk about their mental complaints or illness at work.
Being open about your psychological complaints at work
However, it is best for your recovery to be open about your psychological problems at work. In this way, it can be taken into account for work-related issues. What can help with this is to first talk about it with a close colleague. This colleague will probably understand and support you. This lowers the threshold for telling your boss and possibly other colleagues.
What to tell your boss?
Before you tell your boss, there are a number of tips that you could take with you. Consider what you want to say exactly in advance. Also think about what you need within your job for your recovery. So make clear agreements about this and do not be persuaded to do something that you do not fully support. For example, do you want to work on fewer projects, fewer responsibilities, or focus more on what you really like? Who knows, maybe you can also work a little less if this helps you. Do not be afraid to discuss this with your boss, because your boss also wants you to recover quickly. This does only good to your productivity! Maybe your boss can also help you to tell other colleagues, for example during a meeting or in an e-mail. This promotes understanding in most cases. Who knows, maybe there are more colleagues with psychological problems and you can help each other.
What to do in case of a negative reaction?
Maybe you are worried that your boss will react negatively to your psychological symptoms. In this case try to empathize with his role: how would you react if you were in his position? Probably you would only be worried about your employee. Keep this in mind during the conversation. Yet it is possible that his first reaction is not as positive as you had hoped. Be aware that from an outside point of view, you can not see how you feel. Maybe your boss finds it hard to understand that you are have trouble. Try to explain the situation as well as possible. Give him enough time to respond. Probably he needs to get used to it for a while and will react differently later on.
Going to work with psychological complaints: is this possible?
Sometimes, working can also help a lot in recovering from psychological problems. Work offers structure, social contacts and appreciation, all points that can contribute enormously to psychological recovery and quality of life. From 2013, more and more is being done to get people with a mental illness to work and to keep them at work, and people talk about it more and more. Fortunately, psychological problems are understood and supported better and better on the work floor. Being open about your complaints can help tremendously in creating understanding within your boss and your colleagues. In this way, you can be more accountable if, for example, you would like to work less or would like to do less demanding assignments.
Plan in your Daily Planner when you want to discuss your psychological complaints with your boss and / or colleague. Write down in your Diary what exactly you would like to discuss during this conversation. Do you find it difficult?