A Mental Health Day Off, Guilt-Free

May 12, 2019 Morgan Meredith

The idea of taking a mental health day off can feel wrong even though taking a sick day from work for a physical ailment seems like no big deal. While sick days don’t exist in the work culture of many countries, countries and workplaces that do have sick days available intend those days off for health and wellbeing. 

Meet Requirements for a Mental Health Day Off

Do you meet the requirements for a mental health day off? Be sure. In order to make sure you’re in compliance with your country’s or workplace’s requirements, take some time to review the policies around sick days. If you must include a note from a physician, for example, set an appointment, even if just at an urgent care clinic. If you’ll be visiting a new physician, gather your health records and bring any prescriptions related to your condition. 

Sometimes physical illness can exacerbate mental illness. If you’ve got a combination of ailments, be sure to care for each of them individually.

A Day Off for Mental Health: Removing Guilt

Once you know you’ve met the requirements to take a day off with integrity, the next step is removing any guilt you may be feeling about your mental health day off. Acknowledge that guilt often stems from common stigmas surrounding mental health; thoughts like "mental illness isn’t actually illness" can creep in and make you feel like your sick day isn’t legitimate. Consider that the symptoms of your condition can deeply affect your work in the same ways that a fever can: lack of focus, inability to participate as a team player, and irritability, for example. Consider also that, just as you wouldn’t want to infect your colleagues with the flu, you wouldn’t want to spread a despondent or negative attitude, either (if that’s one of your symptoms). Staying home may be the most productive choice you can make for your colleagues. 

Another reason people can feel guilty about taking a mental health day off is they feel sick days should be saved for more "serious" afflictions. This thought is also generally a manifestation of self-stigma and can be approached by comparing to a more physical illness. If you start to feel physically ill, choosing to take a day off and rest can make the difference between healing quickly and spiraling into a worse illness. The same applies to mental illness; if you begin self-care early, you may be avoiding a more serious episode that would require even more time off. 

Periodically taking care of your mental health with a guilt-free sick day can make a difference in your work-life balance and overall wellbeing. 

APA Reference
Meredith, M. (2019, May 12). A Mental Health Day Off, Guilt-Free, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 16 from

Author: Morgan Meredith

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