Good mental health is incredibly important nowadays, people seem to put it on the back burner a lot which means that they neglect their own feelings which causes their worries to bubble up and spill over into their personal life as well as professional. Taking a mental health day is not a sign of weakness, it shows strength and courage to know what you need when you need it.
Just like your physical health, you should take care of your mental health needs as well so you are able to function at your best level. If life has been getting on top of you lately and you need to ask your boss for a mental health day, then there are some ways to go about it to ensure you communicate your feelings properly and show your boss that you are not quitting, you just need some time.
Why do You Want to Take a Mental Health Day?
Mental health days, also known as taking a sick day, are there for when people need a mental health break, either because their personal life has become too stressful, or they are dealing with workplace issues that are leaving them feeling burnt out and pressured.
If you already suffer from depression and/or anxiety disorder, then you know that feeling of being overwhelmed and not knowing which way to turn. These types of moments can occur at any point, and since you probably work 9-5, you will get some of them during work hours.
Having any type of mental health condition can be very daunting, and telling anyone, especially your boss, about your mental health status can be a scary experience, however, it is not something to be ashamed of, and as the conversation surrounding mental health and mental illness has grown, so have people’s acceptance.
No More Taboos
Asking for a mental health day should not be a taboo anymore, nonetheless, we all still feel guilty and feel awkward in asking for one, or taking time away from the company to rest because we think we should just get on with it and not fuss.
This type of thinking can cause more stress on you and you may not feel comfortable in your job or with your employer whilst going through it.
What do We Fear?
Fear can stop us from doing a lot of things, maybe we fear the reactions of other employees, or we think we will lose our job if we request support or take that mental health day off. Maybe you have other mental health conditions that you have to deal with daily and this could make them think you can’t do your job properly.
Whatever you are thinking, there are ways that you can approach this in a positive and proactive way. Your need for a mental health day should not be pushed aside because of what you fear.
Remember – you would take a sick day for any physical health issue, your brain is just as important as your body.
What Steps to Take to Ask For a Mental Health Day
You have plucked up the courage to ask for an actual mental health day from your boss, this may seem like a scary thing to do, but working through the steps you will need to do will help you get everything set out correctly. If you want human resources in the room or CC’d in the email, let your boss know so you cover all your bases.
What is the company you work for like? Are they people you can have an open dialogue with? Do they respect honesty and have a flexible view of the work you do? If so, this may be a good way to get started.
You can be completely open with them about how you’re feeling, and how you feel some pressure at the moment and would like to take care of your mental wellbeing so taking a mental health day would be beneficial for your current situation.
If you do not want to divulge too much information and you would rather be vague, that is perfectly fine, it is your mental health at the end of the day, and if it makes the process easier to just give the basics for personal reasons then that needs to be understood. You can still make your case in your work request without having to go into minute detail.
If you think your company culture is not as open as you would like it to be and you feel like a request would be turned down, it is okay to ask your boss for an actual sick day instead.
Both you and your boss need to be on the same wavelength and speak about the day, but if you are worried that sick days are more acceptable to them than taking a mental health day for your mental health needs, then go down that route instead.
If you believe that you are being discriminated against due to your mental health, and it seems evident, there are anti discrimination laws in place that you can look into, plus you can check with the equal opportunity employment commission to discuss the policies and what you can do if you are worried about your job. Your workplace well being is incredibly important, so do not brush that aside.
Take a Look at Your Workplace Policies
If you are thinking about requesting one of your sick days or mental health days, then you will need to check over the company policies first to see what the rules are for this so you can prepare yourself when asking your employers.
As mentioned before, your legal rights come into play here, so if you are able to take a mental health day and they deny it, you can refer to the employee handbook or your contract, wherever the policies are located, and show your employers that you are allowed a mental health day/sick day and explain what you need to.
Create a Plan
Before asking, it would be best to make a plan of what you want to say and who you are going to say it to, as well as how you will handle your work so you can have that day or days off.
A few examples of the questions your boss may ask are – “how long will you be off?” “Do you have any outstanding work?”, these are normal as they need to know who to delegate to or how they can better support you.
Talk to Your Co Workers
If you want to speak to your co workers privately beforehand and ask if they are able to help out slightly whilst you’re away or say that you’ll get the bulk of it done over the next few days or so, then that may be a good option. Show them that you have thought about this and you do care about your job, you just need some time.
This Day is For You
Whilst going through this process of asking for a mental health day off, you may be so consumed with asking for it, that it adds to your stress even more. You need to look at it as it is – time to take a break and focus on your mental health. Whether you have family issues or a personal issue, you need to know that this is the right thing to do.
Many people do not feel comfortable talking to others about what they are dealing with, it’s normal, since being open and honest about mental illness and health has only recently become more accepted throughout workplaces.
On the day/days you take, maybe it would be a good idea to think about choosing therapy as your support or think about why this has now suddenly become too much for you. Whatever it is, don’t give up on yourself and feel pressured into keeping quiet. Speak up because who knows, you may inspire someone else to take control of their own mental health.
If you are suffering with your mental health and you need some time to refocus and support your brain, there is no reason why you shouldn’t take a mental health day to feel comfortable with what you are doing again. You will thank yourself in the long run.