Should I Share My Mental Health Diagnosis With My Manager?

Veronica Yao

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by Veronica Yao

Every neurodiverse professional has faced a situation where they had to decide whether to disclose their diagnosis with their employer. 

In the workplace, your reputation is your most valuable asset. So it’s no wonder so many neurodivergent professionals choose to keep their diagnosis private. 

To fit in with their neurotypical peers, it’s common for neurodivergents to adjust the way they behave at work by mirroring their behaviour. This is also known as “masking”. Masking over extended periods of time can lead to stress and eventually burnout. For this reason, there’s a growing number of professionals who have chosen to embrace their identities with management and their coworkers. 

To Share or Not to Share?

Living your work life authentically sounds like an easy choice, but the reality is, that disclosing your diagnosis to your managers and peers can have some unwelcome consequences. There’s a very real chance you might face discrimination or biased perceptions from colleagues or superiors. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of the risks and potential impact on your professional life before disclosing your diagnosis to your employer.

With that said, there are positive aspects to consider as well. Sharing your diagnosis can qualify you for workplace accommodations, such as flexible schedules, remote work options, or adjustments to your workload during challenging times. Disclosing your mental health diagnosis can also pave the way for a more supportive work environment, encouraging open communication and a more empathetic work culture. 

Plus, being able to express yourself authentically at work can make a significant difference in your overall well-being and job performance.

5 Steps to Take Before Disclosing Your Diagnosis

So which path is right for you? If you’re having trouble deciding, be sure to read the following prompts and apply them to your situation.

1. Assess your needs

As neurodivergent professionals, it’s important that we are able to advocate for what we need in order to succeed. While your employer is bound by due diligence to accommodate you in your work, they will expect you to lead the conversation and make recommendations.

What are some of the challenges you are facing at work, and what kinds of accommodations are you hoping to receive? Once you have a clear vision of what your ask(s) will be, it’s time to move on to step 2…

2. Refer to company policies

Review your company’s policies regarding disabilities and accommodations. Do they have rules and regulations in place to protect individuals who disclose their mental health diagnoses? 

Understanding these policies can help you gauge the level of support you might receive from management. If your company has an HR department, consider reaching out to them for general information and guidance. 

3. Seek out support networks

Know that you’re not the first person who’s tackled this challenge. There are tons of online and in-person communities and resources available for neurodivergent folks. 

Take some time to ask others about their personal experiences. Why did they choose to disclose, or why not? What were some of the consequences? Use this information to help guide you in your own journey. 

Join our Facebook Community: Neurodivergent Careers & Job Seekers

4. Evaluate your workplace relationships

Consider your relationship with your manager. How have they supported you in the past? Do you have a strong working relationship?

Remember that your relationship with your manager is one that heavily influences your work experience, so you should be comfortable and confident that they will support you before sharing your diagnosis.  Even if you choose to disclose your diagnosis to your manager, there’s no rule that says you need to share this information with your peers. It’s up to you whether you want to be open and public about your identity as a neurodivergent professional. 

Think about your company’s general work culture. Are there other employees who are open about their diagnoses? You may choose to tell certain peers who you are more comfortable with. 

It’s best to be selective at first with who you share this information with so you can better control and manage the responses you receive.

5. Consider a trial period

Try requesting specific accommodations or support on a trial basis. Frame it as a request for support without explicitly mentioning your diagnosis. 

You can discuss workplace adjustments such as flexible scheduling, quiet spaces for focused work, or written instructions instead of verbal communication.

By highlighting the practical solutions you need, you can maintain your privacy while ensuring your needs are addressed.

Are you neurodivergent and burnt out at work?

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