High rates of stress and mental illness in New Zealand workplaces mean there is increasing recognition of the need to protect wellbeing and foster mental health at work. Otherwise, we lose talented staff through stigma, stress and distress, and see team resilience and innovation suffer. Having more skilful conversations, between colleagues, and between employees and leaders, is crucial to building the trust and openness necessary to better manage hard times.

Many employees struggle with how to have conversations with their people leaders about their general wellbeing, and in particular experiences of stress and distress at work. Whether or not to disclose mental illness to their leader is also a fraught and difficult decision for many people. Doing so can offer a number of advantages, as leaders may be able to provide practical and emotional support, enable helpful changes in the workplace and be of assistance at times when things are particularly hard. There are also number of reasons why, as a leader, it can be useful for team members to disclose their difficulties, including providing a more authentic lens for understanding team members and being able to play a role in aiding their recovery.

However, fear of judgement and concerns about how the information might be used can often get in the way of disclosure, to the detriment of both the individual and the team.

Download our PDF to read more about four key factors that people will seek to be confident in before they will trust their leader, or colleagues.