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Can You Take a Mental Health Day Off Work?

    Today’s world has many people asking, can you take a mental health day off work? The answer is yes, in many cases. Paid days off for any reason are protected by law. If you work for an employer that provides you paid sick time, you can take days off for mental health. You are entitled to those days, and you don’t even need to be detailed in your request.

    In this post, we’re looking at the importance of taking days off for mental health reasons. It’s more dangerous not to take those days, as too much stress and anxiety can lead to burnout at work and in other parts of your life. Keep reading to find why you can take a mental health day off work.

    Mental Health Concerns Are on the Rise

    Did you know that mental health issues cost companies money when employees don’t take the time to tend to themselves? According to the World Health Organization (WHO), companies around the world lose upwards of a trillion dollars every year due to decreases in productivity brought on by depression and anxiety within their workforces. 

    Over the course of the COVID pandemic, mental health issues have grown exponentially. Unfortunately, this makes sense. There is so much more to worry about. We worry about losing our jobs, about ourselves or loved ones getting sick. We worry about gathering, about remote learning, about remote working, about masks and vaccines, and even groceries on the shelves. 

    The world has been going through a highly tumultuous time. Much of the past two years have caused a lot of trauma for a lot of people. It’s become increasingly more important to take a mental health day if one is needed.

    Is Paid Sick Time Protected by Law?

    Not all employers offer paid sick time. Those that do, which are the majority, offer paid time off for employees to take in the event they are sick or a household member is sick. 

    Laws exist to protect employees who take sick days for any reason from any type of backlash or unfair treatment. An employer cannot punish or reprimand a worker for taking a sick day, whether it be because they are physically sick, mentally unwell, or overwhelmed. 

    Why Are People Afraid to Use Sick Time?

    There’s a problem in America that leads to employees feeling like they can’t take days off when they don’t feel well. They’re afraid of being mistreated when they come back to work by coworkers and superiors. 

    Research shows many people try not to use their paid sick time, especially for anything related to mental health. Mental health issues are only now becoming easier for people to acknowledge. It’s coming to light how critical it is that we all take care of our mental health. 

    So, Can You Take a Mental Health Day Off Work?

    Absolutely, you can. The truth is your work suffers if you don’t tend to the stress and anxiety in your life. When you become overwhelmed with life’s struggles and worries, your performance and production levels decrease. 

    You have the legal right to request a sick day even if all you intend to do is relax. Use your day to rest, evaluate, calm your emotions, reset a perspective, or destress. You can either plan for your mental health day ahead of time or simply call in sick. 

    What Shouldn’t You Do on a Mental Health Day?

    Mental health days shouldn’t be about working on other tasks, dealing with a friend or family member’s issues, or indulging in unhealthy behaviors. There are some situations and activities you should avoid on a day meant for tending to your mental health. Try to refrain from the following:

    • Being around friends and family that cause you stress
    • Eating unhealthy foods
    • Smoking, drinking, and doing drugs
    • Social media
    • Wallowing or sulking
    • Negative self-talk

    It’s also not a good idea to overload your schedule with many things to get done. If you aren’t able to complete them all, you could end up in a more stressful situation than where you began.

    What Should You Say?

    When you call in or schedule a mental health day, you only need to say what you’re comfortable telling. But here’s a tip. It’s ok to admit you’re struggling with your mental state. It could lead to a more comfortable communication environment between you and your boss or HR department. 

    Final Thoughts

    If you’ve been wondering–can you take a mental health day off work?–know you’re not alone. Many of us are struggling with stress, anxiety, and depression. We are living in uncertain and unprecedented times. Your sick time is not just there for physical illness. You can take a mental health day off with it, too.