In an ideal world, revealing a mental illness at work means you’ll be met with support. In the real world, that’s not always the case. Take these steps to make sure disclosing helps, instead of hinders, your career.
No need to offer up your diagnosis. Studies show companies are reluctant to hire candidates with mental disorders. And it’s hard to prove your health was what took you out of the running, says Chad Saunders, a California attorney who specializes in workplace discrimination.
On The Job
Speak up if you need help. Request a meeting with both your direct manager and HR to outline, specifically, what you’d like your workplace to provide (e.g., a flexible schedule so you can get to therapy sessions). Recap everything in an e-mail so you have a permanent record.
The Americans with Disablities Act can’t protect you against abusive colleagues, but the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will take on workplace harassment cases. Document everything, then file a complaint at EEOC.gov. (Last year, 41 percent of all harassment cases came out in the employee’s favor.)
One Final Note
The ADA gives you the right to “reasonable accommodations” (that flexible schedule) to help you do your work. However, if your illness renders you unable to do the job you were hired to do, your employer has the legal right to let you go.
This article was originally published in the May 2016 issue of Women’s Health, on newsstands now. Go to our Mental Health Awareness center for more content like this and to find out how you can help break the stigma surrounding mental illness.