I think I have a mental health problem that might affect work

Now what do I do?


By Esther Brass, Ph.D.


This article was originally published on Mind Share Partners' "Mental Health at Work" section on Thrive Global.


It takes courage to admit to yourself that worries, moods, fear, stress or lack of confidence are getting in the way of your work. It’s hard to admit it to yourself, and it’s hard to tell others. Many people who experience mental health difficulties do not seek help, and often try to hide their condition, hoping that everything will seem okay. A study by Rand found that 69% of employees said they would hide their mental health condition from coworkers and colleagues.


This happens for a variety of reasons, but most often it’s done to avoid judgement and any potential risk to their career and perceived capabilities because of the stigma attached to mental illness. Often, people with a mental health condition don’t realize they have certain rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and they remain uncertain about whether the benefits of disclosure will exceed the risks.


As a cognitive behavioral psychologist, I have been impressed and moved to see my clients use therapy to change their lives for the better, both in their personal and in their work lives. That’s why I’m writing about the importance of acknowledging mental health problems and seeking support: It’s important for individuals to pursue the help they need to better meet personal and work challenges. It’s also important for supervisors, managers and co-workers to know more about mental health so that they don’t react negatively out of fear of lack of understanding and can contribute to a work environment that supports workers’ strengths.


Whether you decide to disclose your mental health condition at work or not, you want to ensure that you take the proper steps for managing the situation as effectively as possible. Here are some ways to take care of yourself right now and ways to get support and help.


1] Know that you are not alone.


Other people have struggles too, don’t think you are the only one. Did you know the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15 to 44 is depression? And anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older.


2] Observe – what do you notice about the difficulties you are having?


Here are examples of questions to ask yourself.

  • Does my mood make it hard to do things?

  • Am I too irritable?

  • Does it feel like ev