- Sammy Jo Diffendaffer, M.S., LMFT Associate
Knowing When to Warrant yourself a "Mental Health Day"
If you keep up with trending topics in social media or mainstream news, you may have heard the hype around one employee's email exchange with her boss regarding the use of a sick day to manage her mental health. The Boss's email, praising the employee for, both, her self-care devices and her honesty with superiors and colleagues in the workplace regarding her mental health, has now been tweeted and re-tweeted over 10,000 times. While this particular individual had a positive experience in advocating for her own mental health needs, "mental health days" as sick days are not always so well-received. Due to the intangibility in measuring mental illness in comparison to measuring physical illness, the need to take time off of work in care of one's mental health may never be fully be acknowledged by employers.
While I will never claim to be an "expert" on each individual's specific mental health needs nor pretend to have any exceptional knowledge on employer/employee relationships and business regulations regarding the use of "sick days," my professional advice for those who battle issues of mental health is to establish a routine of self-care. Just as proper sleeping and eating habits benefit our physical health (and subsequently our mental health as well), there may be things specific to each individual that help us keep our mental health struggles in check. If your self-care is practicing yoga and meditation, then I would encourage you to make it a priority to engage in your yoga practices as often as you need. If it is reading, writing, or spending some time in solitude, I encourage you to recruit the help you need to ensure some alone time for yourself. If your mental health is managed by keeping things tidy and you need help from others in order to do so, I would encourage you to speak up and kindly explain how important to you and helpful it is when others pitch in. And finally, if you find yourself at your wit's end and cannot muster a particular day of work without your mental health caving in, then, by all means, use that time to do whatever it is you need to do to get your "sanity" back.
While it is normal to have "off days" and times when you feel more anxious or stressed, if you are needing to miss work too frequently or feel as if you are "stuck in a rut" with your mental health, it may be time to consider consulting with a mental health professional regarding other treatments or lifestyle changes that could be useful to y