People are leaving their jobs for mental health reasons like never before. Many attribute this to the devastating effect the pandemic had on our lives.
Pandemic or not, mental health is a real issue in the workplace. Though whether it was given the seriousness it deserved is debatable.
Sometimes quitting the job for mental health reasons is not negotiable. You need to quit your job to remain sane and function like a normal person. However, there are times you may be in two minds about whether to quit or not.
You may also have to tackle the dilemma of answering the obvious question of the hiring manager for your next job, “Why do you want to quit your current job?”. From their perspective, this is justified as they would want to know you, your priorities, and your ability to handle difficult situations.
The hard part for you is to decide what to say and what not to say. And, leaving a job for mental health reasons puts you in a delicate and precarious position. This article will help you untangle your emotions and thoughts and think with clarity on the topic. Here you will find some of the best ways to explain leaving a job for mental health reasons, be it to your current boss, the future hiring manager, or even your own family and friends.
How to tell your boss about your mental health issues?
Whether you are requesting time off or quitting the job, you need to talk to your manager about it. In fact, your manager may come up with a better plan to handle your crisis such as a change of job title within the organization, a change of supervisor, or a simple change of work you are assigned to do.
If you’re planning to take a break, you should book an appointment with your doctor. Have a frank conversation with the doctor about how your job is affecting your life and mental health. It would help if you can give specific incidents to back your claims. You can either rely on your memory for this or write it down in a journal.
The doctor may recommend therapy and self-care routines to regain your mental health. They may also recommend time off from work for a limited period.
While your consultation with the doctor is progressing, you may appraise your boss about what is happening. You can tell them the approximate time you will be taking the break from work so that they can make plans to find a replacement for you.
If your manager is suggesting changes to your work, you can consider this. If your problem is with a specific person or specific work, this may help resolve the issue. Take your time to consider this proposal and come to a decision.
You may also take help from an employee assistance support facility at your workplace. They may be able to suggest some solutions you never knew existed. Most workplaces have programs to help their employees suffering from health issues. Be it flexible work hours or managing the workload.
When you are having trouble at the workplace, it’s up to you to bring up the topic with the concerned people. If you choose to keep quiet, you cannot blame your manager or others for not helping you. After all, they are not mind readers. Your unpleasant situation is not going to change unless you take action.
Signs your job is harming your mental health
We all have good days and bad days. We have learned to take them in our stride and move on in life. But if the bad days are way too many, it should make you sit up and take notice. Ignoring them can be too dangerous for your mental health.
Is your job the reason for your deteriorating mental health? Do you hate Mondays and going back to the office? By the end of the day, do you feel completely drained?
Is your relationship with family members going down the hill recently for no apparent reason? Do you think your home life has lost its charm? Do you feel lost, stressed, unhappy, and in low spirits most of the time? Do you experience a vague sense of fear or premonition that something bad is about to happen to you?
You may also feel the aftereffects of the mental trauma on your physical health. You’re easily irritated and frustrated with everyone including yourself. Your tolerance level is low. You fall sick frequently of minor health problems like cold, fever, headache, upset stomach, or even skin allergies.
All these are symptoms of mental health issues. However, you need to ascertain that the root cause is your job and not some other aspect of your life.
When your job or work environment is not healthy or even toxic, this is bound to impact your life in many ways that may seem unconnected. Only by watching yourself closely and monitoring your thoughts and feelings, can you pinpoint the exact cause of your distressful situation.
At the workplace, again, it may be the job itself you detest. Or it can be your boss or a colleague, or the general atmosphere there. When you are not valued or supported, overlooked, overloaded, pilloried, ridiculed, or not taken seriously, it cannot be a pleasant experience for you at the office. You may not enjoy your job when you are not encouraged, acknowledged, and taken for granted.
Before taking a serious decision such as quitting the job, you should consider resolving your issues by having open conversations with the people concerned. You may even request some time off to recuperate. Sometimes, taking a break can resolve your problems.
How do you know it’s time to quit the job?
As you are already under so much stress and anxiety, you may find it difficult to make a decision. Your mind may be too confused to think clearly. Here are some suggestions to help you arrive at the right decision.
- You have made your needs clear with the concerned authorities and no action has been taken to mitigate your concerns. You are concerned about the loss of income, but money isn’t everything.
- Your mental health issues are getting worse and it is turning chronic. You experience fatigue and a lack of focus. You’re being too emotional and impulsive. Your memory is affected and you’re neglecting your basic needs like food, sleep, showering, and exercise.
- You dread going to work so much that you have started developing physical ailments like stomach pain, cold, and fever and report sick.
- You feel you are on the point of breakdown. Your mental health has worsened to such levels that you aren’t sure how long you can retain your sanity. Your emotions are running amok and your decisions are becoming irrational. You don’t trust yourself anymore.
How to deal with the fallout of leaving a job for mental health reasons?
Mental health issues continue to be treated as a stigma in society. Society will view you as weak, vulnerable, and worthless. As a result, you may feel shame and guilt that you failed yourself and everyone else.
Whether you can convince others or not, you can definitely work on your thought process and impress upon yourself that taking action about something that has been bothering you is not a weakness. It comes from a place of immense mental strength. You took the firm stand that your mental health is your priority and you will take the necessary steps to protect it. If someone considers this as a weakness, it is their problem and not yours.
Quitting a job is not to be seen as a failure. When you are unhappy at the workplace, continuing there can have severe consequences for your physical and mental well-being. By leaving the job, you’re bravely admitting the mistake and showing the world that you’ve got the courage to take action rather than stay put and suffer.
However, not everyone will accept your position or perspective. Don’t give too much importance to people who keep pulling you down despite knowing your situation. If need be, move away from them or keep your distance from them for the sake of your mental health.
How to tackle this issue at the next job interview?
How to explain leaving a job for mental health reasons?
Employers bring up this topic at the interview for several reasons. They want to know you, your decision-making process, your career goals, the kind of work you find appealing, and the kind of workplace that suits you. It’s also important from their perspective to know your relationship with your previous employer.
Your employer obviously wants to make sure that you’re a good fit for the role and the organization. So, when you’re asked the reasons for leaving job, you should be honest and straightforward with your answers.
You may find these tips helpful.
- Be clear about your reasons for leaving job or why you left your current employer.
- Keep your answer short and concise. Being truthful doesn’t mean recollecting everything that transpired. Bring back the conversation to why you’re the best person for the job you are interviewing.
- Make positive statements and stay positive. Pick out the positives you gained from the old job and leave out the negatives.
- Be truthful but don’t volunteer more information than necessary. And avoid embellishing facts or telling outright lies. Your future employers may contact your previous employer to compare notes. You don’t want to be caught in a lie.
Final thoughts on leaving a job for mental health reasons
Bashing your boss, employer, job, or workplace is a favorite pastime when colleagues meet informally. However, if your issues go beyond this, you need to consider serious steps to tackle the situation.
Leaving a job for mental health reasons is often looked down upon by society in general. But there is no need for you to feel ashamed or guilty about it.
Be honest, stay positive, and keep it short. That sums up how to explain leaving a job for mental health reasons.
Written by: Rebecca Lombardo
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