To Disclose or Not to Disclose: Navigating ADHD Diagnosis Disclosure at Work
If you're an adult living with ADHD, you may be faced with the decision of whether to disclose your diagnosis to your employer or colleagues. This choice can be quite challenging, as there are both potential benefits and drawbacks to consider.
In my work with clients, I have seen people who have had negative experiences of disclosing their diagnosis - such as being micromanaged out of their job; and those who have had a positive experience - such as acceptance and being asked to consult on neurodivergence issues within the organisation. In this blog post, I'll explore the positive and negative scenarios associated with disclosing an ADHD diagnosis at work.
Positive Scenarios of Disclosing ADHD Diagnosis at Work
Access to accommodations: By disclosing your ADHD diagnosis, you may be eligible for reasonable accommodations, such as flexible working hours or assistive technology (e.g. noise-cancelling headphones). These accommodations can help you manage your symptoms more effectively and enhance your work performance.
Improved understanding and support: Sharing your diagnosis with your employer or colleagues can foster a greater understanding of your needs and challenges. This can lead to increased empathy and support in the workplace, helping you feel more comfortable and accepted. If your organisation is large, there might even be an online or in-person group for neurodivergent employees.
Open communication: Being transparent about your ADHD can facilitate open and honest conversations with your employer, allowing you to discuss any potential difficulties or strategies to improve your work performance.
Reducing stigma: Disclosing your diagnosis can contribute to breaking down stereotypes and stigma associated with ADHD, promoting a more inclusive work environment for everyone.
Negative Scenarios of Disclosing ADHD Diagnosis at Work
Misunderstandings and stigma: While some people may be supportive, others may have misconceptions about ADHD or view it negatively. This could lead to discrimination, social isolation, or a lack of understanding from colleagues or supervisors.
Impact on career progression: Disclosing your diagnosis may inadvertently create biases in the minds of your supervisors or colleagues, potentially affecting your opportunities for promotions or career advancement.
Privacy concerns: Sharing personal information about your mental health can be uncomfortable, and you may be concerned about how this information will be handled or who will have access to it.
Feeling labelled: Disclosing your ADHD diagnosis may lead to feeling defined by your condition rather than being seen for your skills, talents, and contributions to the workplace.
Strategies for Making the Decision
Consider the work environment: Assess the overall culture of your workplace and the attitudes of your colleagues and supervisors. Is it an inclusive, supportive environment, or are mental health issues stigmatised?
Weigh the pros and cons: Make a list of the potential benefits and drawbacks of disclosing your ADHD diagnosis, and consider how each scenario could impact your work life and well-being.
Seek professional advice: Consult with a therapist or career counsellor who specialises in adult ADHD to help you navigate the decision-making process.
Choose the right timing: If you decide to disclose your diagnosis, consider the most appropriate time to do so, such as during a performance review or when discussing accommodations that could help you succeed in your role.
Ultimately, the decision to disclose your ADHD diagnosis at work is a personal one and depends on your unique circumstances, work environment, and comfort level. By carefully considering the potential benefits and drawbacks, seeking professional guidance, and assessing the culture of your workplace, you can make a choice that is best suited to your needs and goals. Remember, you have the right to a supportive and inclusive work environment, and disclosing your diagnosis may be a step toward achieving that goal.
Below are some resources that could be useful:
A one-hour presentation: Invisible’ Disabilities at Work: How to Foster Neurodivergent Advocacy and Acceptance presented by Jessica Hicksted, who had autism and ADHD diagnosed as an adult. Note that this presentation is American and refers to disability legislation that we do not have in New Zealand.