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How Do I Ask My Boss for a Mental Health Day?

If the title of this blog post immediately makes you uncomfortable, you’re not alone. While mental health struggles are just as real and valid as physical health struggles, the remaining stigma prevents people from being honest in asking for and following through on their mental health needs. However, while Covid-19 has been an incredibly difficult and heartbreaking time period, it has brought more awareness to mental health, mental health needs and mental health acceptance. So, while we might not be ready to name what, mental health wise, we’re struggling with, it’s feeling more acceptable to refer to our mental health as a whole, and potentially, ask for a mental health day. 

Mental health days can look different for everyone. Ideally, it’s a day to unplug from the demands of the work week and errands of the weekend. “If you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed and have noticed it negatively affecting your work or home life, you may want to consider taking a mental health day.” Overall, mental health days aren’t only beneficial for the individual, but for the company as well. It creates a more balanced work culture leading to happier and healthier employees. Both of which are great for productivity and performance. In an ideal world, we’d be able to ask for a mental health day the same day we ask for a sick day. However, as discussed above, the stigma surrounding mental health remains present leading to difficulty in following through with asking for a mental health day. Below are some helpful tips to manage the stigma and ask for that all important mental health day. 

There are many aspects of a mental health day that can be uncomfortable. Not only can the conversation with your employer be awkward, but actually taking a day to rest can feel unnaturally and frowned upon in our hustle culture. Positive self-talk is something incredibly important to utilize when having difficult conversations. It’s important to remind ourselves, as many times as necessary, that our mental health is just as important as our physical health and is necessary to prioritize. 

While many companies frequently have a clear policy in place in regard to taking sick days, it can be a bit less clear for mental health days. The first step is learning if your company has a policy in place for mental health days as many organizations are beginning to implement them in some form. If not, take your office culture into consideration. If wellness and mental health are topics that are discussed and encouraged to prioritize, you may feel comfortable bringing up the reason behind you day off. If it’s not something that’s discussed, it’s important to consult with someone in the HR department that can help guide you on how to have the conversation without being penalized. 

Lastly, it’s important to discuss the actual act and phrasing of the question. When we get nervous, it’s not uncommon to begin rambling. Unfortunately, that’s counterproductive to the end goal. Take some time to plan out what you’re going to say before having the conversation. Make sure to be clear and concise with your wording while remaining broad on the reason behind the mental health day. While it’s important to ask for a mental health day when needed, it’s not necessary to disclose any personal information behind the mental health struggle. Ideally, try and put your request between positive statements about the company. Use these statements to highlight the positive impact mental health days can have on the functioning of the company. Statements such as, “When I come back, I think I’ll be in a much better position to do my best work. I really appreciate your support” and “I really care about my job and coworkers and want us all to do our best work” can help draw the connection between healthy functioning, a positive work environment and mental health days. 

I know asking for a mental health day can be scary. Utilizing the above tips can be helpful in managing anxiety levels and giving you the needed push to prioritize your mental health just as you would your physical health. 

If you’ve found yourself struggling to with your mental health and how to communicate your needs within the work environment, it may be useful to try counseling. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our very skilled Chicago therapists today!

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