Take a Mental Health Day Without Feeling Guilty

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Stressed man frustrated with electronic devices


Reminder: you are not a robot. Even when you love your job, becoming successful comes with a lot of worry and hard work. Over time the stress can start to wear on you, and the mental and physical exhaustion can start to take its toll. If you’ve wondered when, or if, you’ll catch a break, the answer is simple: this is where mental health days come to the rescue.

Yet, there’s often guilt that comes with taking a mental health day. When there’s no easy way for you to point to evidence of how you’re feeling mentally (no sniffles or a cough your boss can hear over the phone, no fever or upset stomach that can justify staying home from work), there’s sometimes a level of panic when calling in sick. Many employees feel as though they are not “allowed” to take a day off work for mental illness reasons.

It’s Important to Treat Mental Health like Physical Health

If you had a cold, you might decide to power through the workday. But if you had the flu, you’d likely need to stay home and rest. No one would call you weak for getting the flu, in fact, your co-workers would likely thank you for not coming into the office when you’re sick.

Mental health should be regarded in the same respect. There are days when you may be feeling a little off, but you decide to come to work anyway. Yet there are days when stress, depression, anxiety or another mental health issue affects both your productivity and physical health. It’s essential to take mental health days to focus solely on yourself and your well-being.

It’s also important to remember that if you’re feeling mentally exhausted, your coworkers, managers, and customers or clients can probably tell. Taking a mental health day lets you recharge, reset your perspective and allows your body and mind to rest.

More and More Employers are Getting on Board

A couple months ago, a tweet went viral when an employee sent an email to her team about taking a few days off to focus on her mental health. The response from her boss was not only supportive, but expressed gratitude for her for using her sick day for mental health and for sharing her reasoning with her team to help break the negative stigma of mental health within the workplace.

Despite the fact that nearly 1 in 5 Americans suffer from a mental illness, and that chronic workplace stress takes an emotional, psychological and physical toll on oneself, mental health days are still often seen as taboo. However, research shows that more and more employers are getting on board with stress, depression and anxiety being valid excuses for calling in sick. Before you make up an illness the next time you take a mental health day, consider being honest with your employer and your team. It could help others feel comfortable to address their mental health issues in the workplace and take a much-needed mental health day as well!

Need more resources to help you manage life’s problems so you can reach your full potential? Take advantage of EFR’s Employee Assistance Program, paid for by your employer.