Information Centre

How to have a mental health conversation with your manager


We are not just working through a pandemic. We are experiencing a pandemic, and trying to work.

Working from home can feel isolating at times. No chats with co-workers over coffee, no separation between work-life and life-life. Your bedroom is now functioning as an office/ gym/ sleeping space. For those working on the frontline, there is the added stress of possible transmission and adapting to wearing visors for eight hours a day.It’s no wonder people are feeling overwhelmed. Work can be a major cause of stress so if you’re feeling like your mental health is suffering at the moment, it could be time to speak to your manager.

Why you should speak to your manager about how you’re feeling

Stress and anxiety can lower work performance, not to mention your immune system. Sometimes it’s in your best interest to step back and take a break. The thought of a chat with your boss might strike fear into your heart but it is essential to communicate how you’re feeling to your manager to protect your wellbeing. Here are a few tips on how to successfully navigate mental health conversations : 

Schedule a Call or Meeting

If you have a supportive manager, make sure to check in with them regularly. Making the time to schedule a call or a Zoom meeting is a good way to touch base and let them know what you’re going through. If your workplace is open, facetime with your manager may be more limited. Try to arrange a private meeting with them. If you do not feel comfortable speaking directly to your manager, you can approach HR who are trained to deal with these situations.

Rehearse what you want to say

Unsure about how to broach this topic? It can help to write it out first. You can clearly explain how you’re feeling and what you need from management. Ask a friend or therapist to do a run through with you so you feel more prepared.You don’t need to go too in-depth but let your manager know what you are experiencing and try to name the feeling. For example : “I’m feeling….”

  • Overwhelmed
  • Stressed
  • Demotivated
  • Anxious

Let them know specifically how your mental health is affecting your work. 

Be clear about the kind of support you need

It could be a longer break time, additional support with your workload or even a mental health day to recuperate. Being clear in what kind of support you need will help you to reach a solution. That said, it is not always clear exactly what you need so by opening up a dialogue with your manager, it gives you a chance to work through these things together.These are tricky conversations and some may worry about a lingering stigma attached to mental health. But in 2020, wellbeing has never been more important. Workplaces have a broader awareness of these issues and support is available.If you had a headache during work, you wouldn’t hesitate to tell your manager. Mental health conversations should be no different.

If you would like professional support with anything you are going through turn2me provides free, confidential online supports for young people and adults in the Republic of Ireland.

  • Peer support – A free and safe space where you can find and give support by connecting with other people who have been through similar experiences.
  • Group support -Facilitated by a mental health professional, support groups are a safe space to connect with others and share solutions and coping strategies on a variety of mental health topics.
  • Counselling – Support for whatever you are going through, this is a safe space to talk with a professional counsellor to help you understand your feelings and work together to develop the tools you need to get through tough times.