THE statistics say it all. One in five of us has taken a day off sick because of stress -- yet few admit to having a problem, with nine in 10 giving a different reason for their absence.
Only half of those with a diagnosed mental health problem have told their boss. It can mean those suffering from a mental health problem are disciplined, dismissed or considered first when it comes to redundancy.
"The problem is that few people talk about mental health issues because stigma remains a big issue," says Kiran Daurka, employment lawyer at Slater & Gordon.
"If you do not tell your manager or colleagues about your anxiety or depression and it has an impact on your work, you take more time off sick, you miss deadlines or you cannot cope with your workload, they will assume that you are not capable of doing the job. However, if your employer knows you have an underlying health condition they may be able to offer you additional support. That is why communication is vital.
"Those with ongoing mental health issues are offered protection under equality legislation and employers are obliged to make reasonable adjustments to the way you work to remove the hurdles that you face.
"These adjustments could involve giving the employee a little longer to complete tasks, getting them some extra help, changing their deadlines or allowing them to start at a different time -- for example, if they are anxious about their commute or being late.
"However, the changes have to be 'within reason' so it depends on the type of work and the size of the workplace.
"If it is not possible to open the office at 8am because it is a small business then that may not be deemed reasonable, but a later start time might be an alternative. However, in a larger organisation, an adjustment to the way an employee with mental health issues works may be relatively straightforward and easy to accommodate. "However, if you do not have the conversation, nothing will change and you might not get protection under equality legislation."
So what is covered by the Act? The Equality Act may cover your condition if it has lasted or is likely to last for 12 months or more and has a "substantial, adverse effect" on your ability to do normal things, such as staying focused on tasks, …