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Your Office Coach

When do you tell the boss about a diagnosis of depression?

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Q: "For the past five years, I have suffered from depression. During that time, I have been on and off medication. However, I have never told my employer about this problem. 

"During my recent performance review, I received a 'needs improvement' rating for the first time, which was very upsetting. Do you think I should tell my manager about my depression?"

A:  Before deciding whether to share this information, you should carefully weigh the pros and cons. If your employer is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), then identifying yourself as "disabled" may provide increased legal protection and job security. If that is your goal, you should contact the EEOC to learn how the ADA may apply in your situation.

On the other hand, revealing a psychiatric diagnosis could cause management to view you differently. This may not be fair, or even legal, but such labels can nevertheless influence perceptions, consciously or unconsciously. Therefore, you need to consider how your particular manager is likely to react to this news.

But perhaps the most important question is this: do you currently have the ability to make the changes requested in your performance review? If so, you may be able to improve your rating without ever mentioning your diagnosis.

When someone receives a bad appraisal, their reaction can make things better or worse.  Here’s how to improve the situation: How to Respond to a Bad Performance Review .

© Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.

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