Disclosing And Discussing Mental Disorders With Your Employer

Disclosing And Discussing Mental Disorders With Your Employer

About six months ago, Patrick Ross knew things had reached a breaking point at work. An angry email he had sent to a superior — combined with occasional temper flare-ups and brusque interactions with colleagues — was endangering his job of two years as deputy director of communication at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

So before a scheduled meeting with his boss about these problems, Ross decided he needed to reveal something he had not told anyone outside his immediate family — he was bipolar. He wrote down what he wanted to say and gave it to his supervisor the morning before the meeting.

“I didn’t sleep the night before,” Ross said. “But I decided things had gotten bad enough” — it was time to divulge his secret.

Ross is unusual in that he has chosen to speak publicly about his experience. But he is not unusual as one of 43.7 million adults who suffer from a mental, behavioral or emotional disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. (The statistic does not include substance abuse.) That is more than 18 percent of American adults.

A 2013 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found that diagnosed depression alone costs companies an estimated $23 billion annually in absenteeism.