Many of us naturally feel apprehensive when we start a new job. Each person is unique (just like everyone else) with a distinct personality, talents, vulnerabilities, potential and backstory. The past and the future can feel like they are colliding in the present when we start something new. How do you prepare yourself mentally for that leap into a new job?

1 in 10 young people have a diagnosable mental health condition. 1 in 4 people over 65 suffer from depression. We are living and working longer. Your mental health can impact on how you transition into work at any age.

Mental health covers a huge spectrum from anxiety, stress and depression to bipolar and schizophrenia among many others. These are not the same as learning difficulties which Mencap defines as a reduced intellectual capability and difficulty with everyday activities. The NHS defines a learning disability as an IQ below 70. Stigma is still attached to mental health difficulties and it can hold us back from being ourselves, although there is increasing openness.

Here are 3 ways to help if you are starting a new job or role and don’t feel mentally ready for whatever reason:

Get support

Each person has individual circumstances and the context for the job will vary. Get advice, support and reassurance from outside the organisation to help with your transition from a coach, mentor, counsellor, doctor, friends or family. Don’t do it alone if you are fearful. Other people can bring objectivity if you struggle to differentiate between the natural anxiety before starting a job and a particular mental health condition you experience. Don’t forget your own internal resources – remind yourself of a feel good memory of when you succeeded and what got you there.

Best YouKnow your wants and needs

Prepare a wants and needs checklist before you start. What would you like to make your transition into work as smooth and effective as possible? What do you need? Frame those wants and needs in job and role terms in a discussion with your new manager as part of your settling in period. Be open and transparent, although you are under no legal obligation or pressure to declare any mental health condition. An organisation is duty bound to provide “reasonable adjustments” if you do declare and it is backed by evidence.

Rebrand yourself

A mental health condition is not a personal weakness or personality flaw. Employers are increasingly recruiting neurodiverse people with special talents. For example, people with autism see the world in a different way, bring heightened objectivity and work well with data. Present yourself to your new colleagues in a way that shows you at your best and the value your unique talents bring to this job. Show them rather than tell them. Success breeds confidence.

Let me know how you get on by posting your story here!