News

30-03-2015

There is no correct answer regarding whether you should disclose to those at work or your employer about a mental health condition. There is no legal requirement to tell either, unless your condition has the potential to affect your performance or endanger either your own or colleagues' safety ( for example operating machinery or making decisions). Neither is there any legal requirement to disclose a mental condition to a prospective employer when going through the recruitment process. If your disability could reasonably be seen to create a health and safety risk for other people at work, then failure to disclose this risk could be a breach of your obligations under Work Health and Safety legislation.

Stigma is still a problem in the workplace despite National Campaigns to improve mental health at work. There are some figures suggesting that up to half those Australians in the workplace with a mental health condition do not disclose this information to their employer due to concerns about job security.

It can be of great benefit  to discuss your condition with your employer if there have been concerns about your performance as a result of the condition or your ability to undertake all the duties is affected. Extra support such as changes to workload or schedule, problems at work contributing to your condition such as harassment or bullying can be managed.

If you have a mental health condition, certain laws protect you against discrimination in the workplace in all States.

Your right to privacy is covered by an Australian-wide Privacy Act 1988. Your employer is unable to disclose information to anyone without your consent if you tell your employer that you have a mental health condition. They can only use this information for the purpose for which you have told them, such as changing your role or making allowances for your mental health condition in adjusting hours worked .The amount of detail you share with an employer and whether you talk about your specific diagnosis is up to you.

Workplace Health and Safety legislation requires employers to have both physical and mental health for all employees ensured. In practice this is meant to provide the right to working conditions that do not cause or aggravate an existing mental health condition.

The Mentally Healthy Workplace alliance and beyondblue have developed a useful website headsup.org.au to provides a range of supports, information ,resources and advice for individuals and organisations to promote healthy workplaces.

In weighing up the advantages and potential and real disadvantages of disclosing a mental health condition, the website has a very practical decision making tool , where you enter the known points balancing better understanding and communication, reducing anxiety and additional stresses associated with struggling and not disclosing the problems, against the possibility of discrimination, rejection, missing out on transfers and promotions,  misunderstanding and judgemental attitudes. The website also provides suggestions about how to have the discussion  and considerations about who and the appropriate setting and time.

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