I am a Master’s student from the University of Warwick. Alongside my studies, I am a passionate mental health activist, specifically regarding young people. I have been fortunate enough to partake in some of MyPlus’ events, talking about mental health in the workplace as part of breakfast seminars and Recruiters’ Club events. I hope to share some of my insights in this blog, and hopefully move us one step closer to dismantling the stigma surrounding mental ill health.
Discussing one’s mental health with anyone can present huge challenges. Currently, there is a huge amount of perceived stigma surrounding mental health with anyone, let alone a workplace; however, I have learnt that this stigma can be very misleading. After many years of not disclosing my mental health struggles to school, universities, and companies I have interned for, I have become a big believer that disclosing one’s mental health with an employer or university, whilst not mandatory, can be instrumental in improving not only how comfortable one will feel at university / in the workplace, but also in improving their productivity in the workplace. I hold this belief for three key reasons:
Firstly, I have found that disclosing my mental health difficulties to my university or employer, takes a huge weight off my shoulders. Rather than having to ‘hide’ my feelings, and supress my emotions, especially on what I call ‘bad mental health days’, disclosing my mental health conditions allows me to be myself, regardless of how I feel, with the knowledge that my university will be understanding as to why my mood is as such.
Secondly, disclosing one’s mental health to their university increases the resources and help that the university can provide. In my experience it is very easy to feel alone in one’s struggles; all too often I’ve found myself feeling helpless, and unable to tell anyone what’s going on, or how I’m really feeling. Disclosing one’s mental health to universities ensures you easier access to the resources in place to help you through the ‘bad mental health days’.
Finally, and as a sort of culmination of the above two points, disclosing mental ill health to universities, and I would argue, in workplaces, can enable you to become more productive in your studies. Most, if not all universities will have some sort of ‘mitigating circumstances’ system, which allows students to gain some more flexibility in submitting assignments, be that with regards to due dates for coursework, or the ability to take exams at a later date if circumstances mean it will not be beneficial to take them in the summer. Whilst I have not used this system since my first year, many of my friends have, and see huge benefits in their productivity and ability to gain high marks from doing so.
Whilst I see the above as strong reasons to disclose one’s mental health to universities, I think it would be worth reemphasising what I said earlier. For some, it can be extremely challenging to disclose information about how one’s mental health really is. This is something I have spent years struggling with.
So, I would like to end with this final note. When it comes to discussing or disclosing your mental health to anyone, be it friends, family, a counsellor, or your university, you should only discuss as much as you feel comfortable discussing. You should never feel pressured or forced to disclose any more than you feel comfortable or appropriate to disclose. Your journey with mental health is your own, and it is important to take things at your own pace.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. I really hope it helps!