I’ve had a few asks over the past several months from librarians wondering if/when it is appropriate (or necessary) to disclose their mental illness to their employer and/or coworkers.
Many of these folks have expressed a sensitivity to discussions of patrons with mental illness(es) in the library, and they are unsure how to reconcile the policy/treatment/online discussion of those persons within the professional community. The sort of “um—these people you’re all talking about are me, too” feelings.
These questions were far too far from my breadth of expertise. But I wanted to start the conversation, if any of you are willing to share your experience, first hand or otherwise.
Please. This is so important, I know people going through this right now and I hope that some good discussions can come about because of it.
This has been a really hard situation for me to work through, so my opinion may be too heavily based in my own experience to be useful to everyone. However, I’ll toss in my two cents.
I really think that it’s important to disclose your mental health issue to your supervisor and HR if it’s a disability. The ADA protects your right to ask for reasonable accommodations, but you have to disclaim that you have a disability for your superiors to ensure you get them.
I’m in my first professional job and I’m a very proactive person about managing my disorder. I tried the direct route with my co-workers, telling them as needed and asking for assistance if it was necessary to the task at hand. While this worked for a while, eventually it stopped being a solution. When it became a full on problem, it was painful and horrible to have to confront all of the misunderstanding that had fermented about what my disorder was, and deal with the fallout of my boss’ disapproval of my course of action.
The fact is that, in my case, I wasn’t the best person to be explaining to my colleagues what PTSD is and what that means about my ability to function in the workplace. It was far too triggering for me and, I later learned, entirely unnecessary.
TL: DR I guess the point of this is, if you have a disability, make sure that the higher ups know, so you’re protected from misunderstandings and to ensure that your requests are taken seriously. You don’t have to do everything all by yourself. :)