Is what I tell my supervisor about my mental or substance misuse problem confidential?
- University policy requires that supervisors keep your medical information confidential.
- Talk with your supervisor about what, if anything, you want shared with co-workers.
University policy requires that supervisors keep your medical information confidential. They may have to disclose your information to their own supervisor or to the HR representative in order to deal effectively with your situation, but they must not disclose this information to your colleagues.
It is possible, even if you or your supervisor haven’t disclosed that you have a mental health condition, that colleagues or co-workers might guess that you have one. It isn’t unusual for co-workers, when they don’t see evidence of an obvious physical illness, to raise questions about a mental health condition being responsible for apparent performance problems, absences or work adjustments. Given this, you might want to talk with your supervisor about what, if anything, you want shared with co-workers in order to help them understand your circumstances. If you choose to have your supervisor share information, it is important to be clear about the terms you want used in referring to your situation. Remember, if you provide co-workers with even limited factual information in place of suppositions, you might lessen your own anxiety and they might feel more comfortable offering support and assistance.