Mental health difficulties - how to tell work boss in email

(93 Posts)
PamplemousseRouge Sun 06-Nov-16 20:24:30

Hi everyone,

Recently, I've really been struggling with work (I've started training to be a teacher) and with my home life (moved into a house share with housemates who I'd never met before).

I went to a nearby hospital this evening to explain the situation and how it's affecting my mental health. The staff were wonderful - extremely understanding and kind.

They've suggested that I take time out of time if I need to.

I'm just drafting an email to my head of department to let him know about the situation with my mental health. I was told by the staff at the hospital that I can reveal as much or as little as I feel the need to in the email. However, I'm finding it difficult to explain my situation clearly and concisely so that my HoD is fully aware of how I'm feeling and how to help and support me if necessary.

I would be extremely grateful if anyone had any ideas on here about how I can write the email. I'm really sorry - I'm just really struggling, and would hugely appreciate some guidance smile

Thank you!

PamplemousseRouge Sun 06-Nov-16 20:25:32

Sorry, "time out of time" in the third paragraph should read "time out of work"! smile

Haggisfish Sun 06-Nov-16 20:27:42

Are you calling in sick or asking for help to cope at work? If calling n sick, theees no need to go into great detail. If asking for support, give example les of what you think will help (e.g. Support in tricky lessons, fewer lessons etc).

Haggisfish Sun 06-Nov-16 20:28:23

Are you on a learn to teach while you earn type course?

SpotTheDuck Sun 06-Nov-16 20:28:34

Do you know, when you're in a bad state I don't think you should make any decisions about how much to disclose. Unfortunately there is still a stigma around mental health difficulties, and you need to decide with a calm head how much you want to reveal.

You need to be signed off work by a GP if it's going to be more than a few days.

So in the morning, phone your GP, explain you've been seen in hospital over the weekend and need an urgent same-day appointment.

If you are due in work tomorrow, just email your HoD saying you are unwell, are seeing your GP and will let him know when you expect to be well enough to work.

Dont disclose anything more than "unwell" until you have to, or feel able to make a calm and informed decision about disclosure.

cansu Sun 06-Nov-16 20:31:30

I honestly would nit give too much detail. I would say that I was feeling very unwell and had been advised by the doctor to stay away from work at the moment. I would tell them thst I would update them as soon as I could but not to expect me back for at least a week or how ever long you think. Try not to get drawn into being too precise about your return. you could also say that you are unable to set work but could perhaps include details of where you are with your groups so they know where to start from.

Ditsyprint40 Sun 06-Nov-16 20:31:35

I agree about not disclosing much at this point.

Are you doing a pgcse, teach first or schools direct?

manicinsomniac Sun 06-Nov-16 20:33:06

Personally, as a fellow teacher with mental health conditions, I would tell them as little as humanly possible. Rightly or wrongly, having a mental illness while working with children is often 'frowned upon' or viewed with suspicion.

I simply say that I have a 'medical appointment' whether I am seeing a psych, a nutritionist, a doctor, a nurse, an assessment or anything else.

I'm lucky in that my health worsens when I have down time so I've never needed to ask for extended time off. If I did, to be honest, I would stall for as long as possible. I'd claim something like bronchitis for the two weeks and hope I felt well enough to go back.

In terms of support at work, I have 2 colleagues who I can tell that I need help or go and meltdown on. But tell SMT - not a chance in hell. Could you pick a close friend at work to help you out?

PamplemousseRouge Sun 06-Nov-16 20:36:18

Thank you for your replies so far, everyone!

Yep I'm doing School Direct, Ditsy.

Spot, the hospital have said that they will email my GP tonight with the details of what happened at my appointment this evening. Do you think it's still worthwhile that I phone my GP tomorrow to book an appointment?

Haggisfish, I will be calling in sick tomorrow, as I think I'm really going to struggle tomorrow. I'm not in the right mindset at all at the moment.

GirlWithABrokenSmile Sun 06-Nov-16 20:36:37

I have to agree with the above - I loved my job and told them a few weeks ago that I was having some difficulties and wanted them to be aware, but didn't feel unable to work at the moment. Unfortunately they wanted a chat about exactly what condition I have and I was laid off a week later. They were sorry but felt it was "for the best".

I am really sad; I trusted them and thought they were friends as well as colleagues.

I'd definitely go with saying as little as possible and just being clear what you need from them. All the best.

Allthewaves Sun 06-Nov-16 20:38:17

Do you have a previous history of struggling with your mental health? If so, is there specific issues at uni that cause problems that the uni could help you with

Shadow1986 Sun 06-Nov-16 20:39:14

Agree with others, I would give as little detail as possible.
Also, never send an email the day you've drafted it, take a day or two to read it over and over - you may feel differently about what you've written in a day or two. Sometimes if I'm having a 'bad day' I will write things down and then the next day barely recognise the person that's written it! Just take your time OP 💐

Ditsyprint40 Sun 06-Nov-16 20:40:11

If hospital is emailing your GP tonight, I'd try and book an appointment with your GP as soon as possible.

Do you know how much time you can take out, to still be able to do your SD?

LostSight Sun 06-Nov-16 20:42:38

I too, many years ago, was fully open and honest with my boss, in the hope of getting discussion and support. I got the discussion, my boss agreed to change things, then his wife (small business) countermanded everything and the situation became awful. They couldn't dismiss me, but I'd say it was pretty much constructive dismissal in effect, because they made my position untenable.

I agree with all those who say, disclose that you are unwell, and decide nothing more until you have a very clear mind.

PamplemousseRouge Sun 06-Nov-16 20:44:45

Thanks everyone! smile

I've got a meeting with my tutor tomorrow (not uni tutor, but tutor from teacher training provider) to discuss pupil progress using forms that I have to submit every half term.

I'm just feeling quite stressed about how to communicate my situation. I really would rather not go into much detail, just as previous posters have suggested, but I'm not sure how to let them know why I'll be taking tomorrow off. If I claim I've got bronchitis or something similar, it will be clear when I do come into school that I'm not physically ill, so I'm really unsure how to explain myself.

DrQuinzel Sun 06-Nov-16 20:45:32

I would book an appointment with your GP to discuss what's going on and get a medical certificate. Although the mental health team will email your GP, it could be a day or 2 before it's picked up by their receptionists and uploaded onto your file (I work in psychiatry and deal with GP's being blissfully unaware of hospital visits, stays etc on a regular basis). You can then discuss with your GP about how much to disclose.

I guess it depends how close you are to your boss/ team as well. As mentioned above I work in psychiatry and got attacked by a patient once, as a result I had some prettt extreme anxiety and PTSD symptoms for a while. I told my manager absolutely everything and would talk on the phone to him every few days, my whole team were incredibly supportive and really helped me to recover (although that's their job anyways!).

If you don't know them particularly well I would keep it brief. Remember you can self-certify for the first week as well, so you could always buy yourself a few days to decide by keeping it really brief.

I hope you feel better soon and try to go easy on yourself flowers

SpotTheDuck Sun 06-Nov-16 20:47:01

You really really don't need to explain yourself.

Just say you're unwell and seeing a GP. Then explain to Gp that you don't want to disclose details - I was once signed off for a month with a dr note that just said I was unwell and unable to work, no details at all.

If they (college or work) ask you directly for more information, just say it's private. You don't need to make up an excuse, just decline to tell them.

If you were signed off for a really long time they would be able to require more info but for now say nothing!

Ditsyprint40 Sun 06-Nov-16 20:47:05

OP, you can definitely say that you'd rather not discuss, or migraine/period pain (something that doesn't last long).

monkeysox Sun 06-Nov-16 20:48:45

Maybe speak to.your union in a few days. Teaching is brutal. flowers

PamplemousseRouge Sun 06-Nov-16 20:58:59

Thank you so much to everyone who's replied so far! I really appreciate it.

I'm thinking of sending something like this:

Dear X,

I hope you're well. Please accept my apologies for the short notice of this email.

I am writing to let you know that I have been struggling with ill health since starting my teaching placement in September.

My health was particularly bad this weekend, and I visited my local hospital this evening to discuss it with them. The staff have advised me to take tomorrow off if I feel the need to.

Thank you for your understanding at this time, and my apologies once again.

Regards ...

How does this sound?

PamplemousseRouge Sun 06-Nov-16 21:00:06

Thanks for the suggestion monkey! I actually just recently joined the union at my family's insistence!! smile Do you think they'll be helpful?

Haggisfish Sun 06-Nov-16 21:18:45

I would take out the 'if I need to' at the end of your almost last sentence.

Trifleorbust Sun 06-Nov-16 21:22:29

That email is fine. You are presumably going to be signed off for a longer period? I would seriously consider asking my GP to provide a certificate with as little information as possible.

Trifleorbust Sun 06-Nov-16 21:26:12

Having re-read what you have written here, you need to contact your Union to make sure you understand your rights. I suspect signing yourself off with an undisclosed illness, but without a sick note, will be challenged quite quickly by your employer. At the moment all you are saying is that you are unwell; that is fine temporarily but you will need to explain or provide a doctor's note if this situation isn't going to turn into unauthorised absence from work.

PamplemousseRouge Sun 06-Nov-16 21:33:27

Oh dear. Just got off the phone to a family member who I was talking to about this situation. They were very supportive about this so far, but when I was on the phone with them just now, they focussed on the importance of me going into work tomorrow.

The family member, I think, is worried that not going into work tomorrow will count against me. I have also sent the family member a draft of this email - they think it's too long, too apologetic and that i shouldn't be sending my employer an email this late. I'm really not sure what to do now.

Please help, everyone.

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