How to tell your boss that you need some free time to follow a therapy


Swenson is not the only one to approach the "T word" with some trepidation. It is difficult for people to navigate the conversation, in part because the stigma surrounding mental health forces some people to remain silent. Combined with traditional ideas about "ideal workers", who require little or no support from their employer and work tirelessly for society, these stereotypes can make the conversation even more intimidating.

When she started her new job, Swenson felt more comfortable discussing her work. mental health at work, and she knew that she wanted to say something. So, in her weekly tête-à-tête with her boss, she decided to talk frankly about it.

"For me, at least, depression is pretty hard to hide," says Swenson. "I almost deflated and I was just going to avoid the question, but then she asked me, 'What is going on at your house?' Do you need support for anything? "It was like at the right time."

Swenson presented her problem as simply as possible, explaining the weekly appointment she had established with her therapist and her plans to organize her responsibilities at that time.

Deciding to talk about therapy with a boss requires careful mental calculation. It depends largely on your relationship with the supervisor and your confidence in his ability to do things right, that is, not to blame you in future evaluations.

If you are unsure about your supervisor's reaction or if you fear reprisals or other adverse effects, Kate Bischoff, owner and founder of Thrive Consulting, suggests first talking to a human resources representative. The Human Resources department can help you organize the conversation or even give advice on how to proceed.

Disclosure to a supervisor has advantages. Often, managers have "a lot of things to help in their toolbelt," says Bischoff.

Some companies offer employee assistance programs that can connect workers with mental health professionals. Making these resources visible to employees can also remove barriers to seeking help, says Claire Cammarata, assistant director of the New York City Employee Assistance Program.

An employer who initiates the conversation or opens the topic may be more helpful than many bosses realize, says Bischoff.

Open communication

"Communication is a major obstacle to this success, so we want to communicate as much as possible," she said. "Once we start discussing this and defining frameworks for organizing these conversations, it's a good first step to creating an environment in which employees feel comfortable talking about their needs and where the employer can express its concerns where necessary. "

According to Cammarata, revealing your own experiences with therapy can be helpful for others. More discussion ends up weakening stigma and opens the discussion to colleagues and managers.

"I had the habit of believing that [the focus should be] mainly on education, and educating people about mental health and addressing myths about various mental health disorders, addressing these misconceptions, "she says. But now, I think that there is another very important element – disclosure. More people are expressing their intention of being in therapy and having open communication about it, in the same way that we can express having a doctor's appointment. "

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