When (and How) to Request a Mental Health Day

Keep your brain healthy and strong.

Work is hard. In addition to normal job responsibilities, you also have to deal with other people. And sometimes stressful conflict can pop up with co-workers, bosses, vice-presidents, and even higher up the chain.

Occasionally those interactions go swimmingly. And occasionally they don’t.

As defined by Merriam-Webster, a mental health day is “a day that an employee takes off from work in order to relieve stress or renew vitality.”

Sounds nice, doesn’t it? If you find yourself dreading driving to the office every morning, bringing work home with you (either physically or mentally), or flinching every time your phone rings, it’s time for a mental health day.

Here are a few signs it might be time to rest the ol’ noggin.

  1. You wake up (and go to sleep) dreading work.

Your first thoughts in the morning should be something along the lines of “wow, I should brush my teeth,” or “I wonder what I should have for breakfast today.” They shouldn’t be “I really don’t like my job, oh please no anything but that,” or “I don’t work well with my boss, I’d rather lie in bed all day.”

If you find yourself thinking these thoughts, it’s time to give yourself a break. Even more so if those thoughts start to keep you up at night.

  1. You bring work home with you (literally and figuratively).

On the one hand, if you’re literally bringing binders full of work home with you every day, you’re going to burn out eventually. The brain isn’t a muscle (it’s much more complex), but like a muscle, if you work out too much, it’s going to snap. And that won’t be pretty.

But “bringing your work home with you” can be metaphorical too. If all you can think and talk about is work, drama with your boss or co-workers, or uncertainty regarding the future of the company, you need a break. Your partner/spouse, kids, and/or friends are probably tired of hearing about it, too.

  1. Nothing Matters Any More.

But mental health isn’t just about feeling angry or sad. If you don’t feel anything at all, especially regarding activities you enjoy, whether that be the work itself or hobby), take a break. Just doing enough work to avoid getting fired isn’t good for you, your company, or the stability of your career.

How to Request a Mental Health Day

Alrighty, we’ve established that you might need a mental health day. Now how do you go about asking your boss for permission?

  • If you can, schedule the mental health day in advance. That should allow you to save up time off, with the added benefit of not interfering with deadlines.
  • Analyze your company culture. Not every workplace or boss is going to be receptive to you saying, “I’m burnt out and need a mental health day.” Unfortunately, some individuals still see such a question as a sign of weakness.
  • Consider keeping things a bit vague. “I’m not feeling well and need some time to recover to keep doing a great job.” Something like that should go over great!

If your mental health is still in danger even after taking a few mental health days, you might need to consider looking for a new job. Remember, your health comes first!

How you ever taken a mental health day? How did it feel? Let us know in the comments section below!



  1. Robbin A Randolph

    It is important to take care of yourself, first. Only you know when you need a break. My sons never had to feign illness to take a day off from school.

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