How To Ask for a Mental Health Day from Work

Over the last few years, the stigma around mental health has been changing for the better. As a result, it has become more acceptable to ask for days off in order to take care of your mental health. However, it can still be scary to ask your boss for a mental health day from work. In this post, you will find our advice on how to ask for the time you not only need but deserve.

Why take a mental health day?

It’s normal for everyone to have periods when they feel burnt out, sad, or having a hard time. Whether this means during school or work, people are prone to needing days off to take care of themselves. In the same way you would take the time to care for a fever or sickness, you sometimes need a day to take care of your mental state.

Taking a day to allow your mind and body to recharge will help make you feel more productive in the long run, can aid burnout, and can give you time to take care of things that may be causing you stress. While this sort of day isn’t meant for errands, whatever you need to do to feel even a little better off is what matters most.

It’s important to note that more than 50% of people in the United States will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime. Within a given year, one in five Americans will experience a mental illness. Whether you have been officially diagnosed or are just having a rough time at the moment, what you are dealing with is common. Taking care of yourself when you need to is essential, and if that means taking one day off work, you deserve to.

How to ask for a mental health day from work

When you go to ask for your mental health day, it’s important to take into consideration the company you’re working for and who you’re asking. While mental health is moving away from being considered taboo, not everyone is as comfortable talking about it or able to respond well to the idea of taking care of your mental health directly.

So, we have two categories: 1) What to say when you do feel comfortable discussing mental health, and 2) what to say if you don’t.

When you do feel comfortable

You don’t owe anyone an in-depth explanation, but you’re able to be as open as you’d like to. Here are a few examples of how to ask:

  • “Good morning. I’m having a hard time with my mental health and need to take a sick day today. Thank you for your understanding.”
  • “Recently I’ve been having a hard time with my [condition] and am going to take a sick day today to try and rest up. I’ll be back tomorrow.”
  • “I’m feeling burnt out, and am planning to take a sick day today to take care of my mental health. I’ll be back in the office tomorrow, thank you for understanding.”

When you don’t feel comfortable

Even if you know it’s a mental health day, you don’t owe anyone that explanation. In simple terms, you’re taking a sick day. These messages can look like some of the following examples.

  • “I’m feeling under the weather today and taking a sick day. Thank you for understanding.”
  • “I’m emailing/messaging you to let you know that I won’t make it into the office today, [date]. I’m experiencing [reason for a sick day] and would like to use a sick day. Thank you.”
  • “I’ve had something come up and need to take a sick day today to recover. I will be back tomorrow.”

These examples are vague, but it’s okay to be vague when asking for a mental health or sick day. Of course, you’re welcome to add as much or little detail to your reasonings as you see fit. Depending on your employer and the culture of your company, you’ll be able to tell which of these suggestions fits best with your options for calling out of work. 

What to expect from your boss

Your boss is (hopefully) a professional, and as a professional, they should respond with something like, “Thank you for letting me know. Feel better.” That’s it! There doesn’t have to be a back-and-forth if you don’t want one. Employers should understand that people need to take sick days, and there shouldn’t be an issue about taking one. So if you’re nervous about asking, we bet there is a good chance they will respond with something short and sweet.

If you feel the need for a mental health day from work, know that you’re deserving of one. You deserve to do what it takes to take care of yourself. Whatever that means for you. We hope you feel better soon. And if you need any mental health support, we’re here for you. Connect with us today to get support.

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