Should You Tell Your Boss About a Mental Illness?Many people struggle with the question of whether or not to tell their bosses about their mood disorders at work. Washington Post columnist Amy Joyce wrote an excellent article on this a few years ago. I have included the first few paragraphs below, but urge you to read the rest of her article, as it gives no straight answers but explores that terrain with great depth.

If you have depression or some other mental illness, what do you do about work? Hope no one notices? Disclose your illness early on and trust that your boss will understand?

Should You Tell is a complicated question.

There is no right answer, and there are some risks to consider.

I discovered this years ago after watching a movie at home with two friends. One of them looked up, scared. She hesitated. And then she let it out: “Do you hear them? The helicopters. They’re coming for me, guys.”

This sweet, gentle friend was scrunched up in the corner of the couch, shaking. Her Ivy League graduate degree and over-the-top intelligence couldn’t get her out of this situation. We had to get her to the hospital.

The next day, after she’d spent a night in the emergency room, I called her boss to say she had the flu. Another friend and I took turns calling in the flu excuse while she huddled in her room. It wasn’t convincing.

This friend had a prized internship that should have turned into a good job. It did not. From the boss’s point of view, something peculiar was going on. My friend appeared unreliable. Her boss never knew why her performance so suddenly dropped. Not only was my friend soon out of a job, but she also knew she couldn’t even ask for a reference.

One in four people has depression or mental illness, and many of those who are affected face the same dilemma: Tell your boss, and you may be ostracized, penalized or not hired.

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