I think that when to disclose about your mental illness or if you want to disclose at all in the workplace is a very personal decision and I don’t think that there is any one right answer. It depends on your comfort level; on whether you feel they need to know; on the job you’re applying for or have currently; on whether you feel that it would impact your chances at getting the job or keeping your job; on how comfortable you feel with your boss and colleagues and so much more.
Being honest from the start
For me I’ve always disclosed during any interview or when talking with any prospective employer because I personally feel that being honest right from the start means that they know I might sometimes need time off or that I might need to attend appointments. I feel better being open so that I’m not worried about it later if they do employ me.
It can impact your employability
In an ideal world, being honest about your mental illness would not impact an employer’s decision but that isn’t the case, often it can have an influence even if they aren’t open about that fact. With some employers that can mean that they have been less likely to give me work but for the ones who have employed me, it’s meant that we’ve both known where we stand, that I’ve known they are accepting, that I feel more comfortable and that I don’t have to lie about reasons that I might need time off work. That’s been a very freeing concept for me and is something that I feel really good about. I have a good rapport with my bosses and I feel a lot of that is based on honesty but there have been jobs that I believe I have not gotten because of my illness.
Stigma in the workplace is still an issue
I do feel that disclosing can mean that you may face stigma within the workplace from colleagues and sadly, this is something that people may need to take into account; I’m lucky that this has only happened to me once or twice in the past but I never let those people stop me from being open because it was what I felt was best for me. Now I work from home and have a very understanding team of colleagues and employers.
What is right for your individual situation is most important
For me, I would rather be employed by someone who understands and is accepting of my mental illness, it’s part of my life and I want to be open about that. I think that for everyone depending on their circumstances, they should do what is best for them, what they feel is going to benefit them the most. I don’t feel as though anyone has the right to tell you that it’s better or worse not to disclose as it really depends on your individual situation. Your comfort level, what works for you, what is best for your own needs is what is most important.