Of course, that’s easier said than done. It can be intimidating to be so vulnerable with the people you see at work every day. That’s why we’ve put together this guide for talking about mental health at work. Use these tips to start a dialogue and come up with helpful solutions alongside your coworkers and managers.

Decide Who to Talk To

Before you bring up mental health at work, think about who you feel most comfortable discussing it with. Do you think your boss would be supportive or dismissive? Is there a colleague who has mentioned their own mental health and would be understanding? You should feel safe and comfortable with the person you talk to.

If you have any concerns about the reaction you’ll get, or if you just want another person there while having the discussion, talk to your human resources department. Someone from HR can be present for the meeting and may even be able to help you prepare for the conversation. This step also protects you from being wrongly terminated after disclosing your mental health issues.

Plan Ahead

Pick a time to talk when you know your boss or colleague will be able to focus on what you have to say. It’s better to do it on a quiet day at work rather than trying to squeeze it in between a long string of meetings, for example. As for the location, make sure you have privacy and feel comfortable. If being face to face in an office feels too intimidating, consider asking them to accompany you for a walk during the meeting.

Try to Be Direct

It’s not your fault that it feels so hard to talk about mental health openly. We’ve been conditioned by the mental health stigma in our society to be hesitant about sharing these things with others. But when you’re able to be open, it actually helps to break down that mental health stigma.

Before you talk to people at work about your mental health, practice a bit on your own. Describe it the same way you would if you were struggling with a physical issue, like getting the flu or needing surgery. Mental health issues are just as legitimate, and treating them that way helps to dismiss the idea that it’s a taboo topic. When you’re ready to bring it up, try to avoid hesitation and just be direct.

Be Specific About the Impacts

Many bosses and coworkers will be empathetic when you bring up your mental health at work. But they won’t be able to provide the help you need if you don’t explain how your mental health struggles are affecting your work. By being explicit about the impacts, you essentially draw a roadmap for them to support you.

After describing what you’re dealing with in terms of your mental health, explain which of your roles and responsibilities at work are affected. Make a list beforehand if it helps you organize your thoughts. This doesn’t show that you’re a “bad” employee. Instead, it shows that you care about your job and you want to do it well, but the current setup needs some adjustments in order to work.

Propose Changes

If you have some ideas on what could help improve your mental health at work, offer them up as suggestions. For example, you may find that having more time to complete a project would ease your anxiety at work. Maybe a quieter, less chaotic work environment would allow you to get more work done without feeling overwhelmed, or perhaps you’d like to reduce your hours temporarily until your mental health improves. Whether these types of changes can be made depends on your workplace, of course, but it can help point your employer in the right direction when trying to help you out.

Take Advantage of Your Resources

Many companies have resources in place to help employees who need mental health treatment. Your discussion with a boss is the perfect time to inquire about any employee assistance programs (EAPs) which have options available for this purpose, such as counseling. Some employers may also be required to provide reasonable accommodations for mental health conditions covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Remember that while you are not required to disclose information about your mental health at work, you may find that it is profoundly helpful if you do. With the tips above, you’ll hopefully feel confident enough to open up the conversation and get the support you need.