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Telling a teacher or boss about your mental health

Reading time: 2-4 minutes

If your mental health is impacting how you function at school, college, university or work, it might be a good idea to tell a teacher, professor or manager. You don’t need a diagnosis to let someone know that your mental health is affecting you – your feelings are valid regardless.

Telling someone in this position can help them to understand why you might behave in certain ways (e.g. if you miss classes due to feeling low or anxious, or sometimes find it difficult to concentrate when working) and they may be able to offer you additional support.

It can be hard talking to a teacher or boss about your mental health struggles, so you might find it easier to write them a letter or email instead. Below, we’ve included a template that you can use and adapt to your own situation. This is just a guide, so feel free to change anything that doesn’t fit or add in any further information that you think your teacher or manager should know.

It’s also a good idea to think about what outcomes you’d like to see after sending the email, as this is something that your boss or teacher might ask you. You might want some reasonable adjustments to be made (head to the bottom of this page for more information on that!) or perhaps you just want to make them aware of your state of mind. 

 

Dear [name of teacher, professor or manager/HR team],

I wanted to let you know that I’ve been struggling with my mental health recently [you may want to tell them exactly what you’ve been dealing with, such as depression, anxiety, difficulties at home, etc. – or just say that you’ve been feeling low!]. While I’m doing my best when it comes to [school/college/work], I thought it would be a good idea to tell you how I’m feeling.

At times, my mental health can make it difficult for me to [concentrate/make it to every class/complete tasks to the best of my ability, etc.] and you might have noticed that I’m not always as [present/switched on/energetic, etc.] as I’d like to be. I hope that in telling you this, you have a better understanding of my situation and why it might sometimes impact the way I work.

I’d be happy to talk to you further about this [you might want to state if you’d prefer to talk face-to-face, by phone or via email] and would be open to hearing any suggestions that you might have regarding support or how I can handle my workload. [If you have some ideas about how they could better support you, such as holding weekly check-ins or making certain allowances, let them know here and explain why they might be helpful.]

I appreciate you taking the time to read this!

[Your name]

 

If you have a mental health condition that’s severely affecting how you work, you may want to ask your employer to make some reasonable adjustments for you. These could include changing your working hours to ones that feel more comfortable or allowing you to reallocate tasks that tend to induce a great deal of stress or anxiety. Mind has a letter template if you want to request changes at work for a mental health condition. 

Under the Equality Act, your employer is required to make reasonable adjustments for you. Any form of negative treatment that follows would be considered victimisation. You might find it useful to read Acas’s pages on mental health at work to find out more. You can also call the free Acas helpline on 0300 123 1100 (weekdays 8am-6pm) to talk through your options.

By: Ruby Guyler 

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