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5 Ways To Encourage Your Employees To Take A Mental Health Day Off At Work

8 min read
Published on 29 April, 2022

It's common for people to take sick days to take care of their physical health, but taking a day off for their mental health still falls in the gray area. Not everyone is in touch with their emotions enough to understand that a break is needed.

According to a recent study by WHO, it is found that anxiety and depressive disorder cost the economy trillions of dollars in lost productive years. Even though many companies have policies for mental health care, it is still hard for employees to take time off for personal days.

This article aims to describe how important it is to take a mental health day off without feeling guilty or hesitant.

Why You Should Never Hesitate To Take Time Off For Mental Health?


Mental health issues are as important as your physical health, and taking care of them should be your priority. Just like any other illness, even your mind needs time to take some rest.

However, it is often overlooked. And you might end up convincing yourself that you don't need a day off or break since you're physically fit to work. But that shouldn't be the case. Both physical and mental wellbeing in the workplace are equally important. Hence, requesting your boss for mental health day off should be normalized.

There is a limit to how much stress someone can handle. But if you pull through under constant pressure, feel overwhelmed, or cannot concentrate at work, that could be a sign that you have pushed yourself too far. It may be time to take a breather.

Again, when you feel too stressed, you and your work may suffer, potentially harming your performance and the work environment. Maintaining your health and well-being at work and home begins with knowing when to spend a mental health day off.

The consequences of going hard until you are on the verge of quitting, having a mental breakdown, or feeling burned out are real. In addition, the cost is expensive to both you and your employer. It is also crucial to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

According to recent research ,it is found that more than half of employees in the United States don't feel comfortable to request their boss for a mental health day off. This is because they fear their employer will think less of them..

How To Know If You Need A Mental Day Off At Work?

"It's unfortunate, but not surprising, to learn that the stigma around mental health in and out of the workplace still exists,"- says Dale Cook, CEO.

Mental health is as important as your physical and behavioral health. Work or personal life stress catches up sooner or later to the body mentally or physically. And knowing when to take a break is equally important.

Although work stress is a common factor, it shouldn't affect your work-life balance or health. There is a difference between stress caused by a minor inconvenience and chronic stress that drains your energy.

Stress is not just about feeling bored or lacking enthusiasm. However, it should raise your concern if you wake up feeling anxious, down, or depressed to such a degree that it impairs your functioning.

Here are some of the signs that you shouldn't overlook and start taking a day off for your mental health -

  • If you're having a lot of sicknesses.

  • If you always feel exhausted.

  • If your workload makes you feel overwhelmed.

  • If you feel underappreciated.

  • If you feel like you have a bad day every single day.

  • If you become more indifferent toward your work performance

Suggested Read: Ways to implement Mental Health Programs in the Workplace

5 Ways You Can Encourage Your Employees To Take Some Time-Off

Everybody needs a mental health day off. Taking sick leave when you're feeling extra weary should be a key factor in any organization's stress management plans or employee wellness programs.

Employees’ health is not confined to just physical but their mental health as well, and keeping an eye on your employees' health condition should be a priority to prevent burnout and high-stress levels.

Encouraging occasional mental health days off at work will benefit your employees and your work as well. When employees are emotionally exhausted, it takes a toll on their performance. So, instead of putting mental health issues under the rug, it's time you develop a more open culture around the importance of mental well-being.

Consider having burnout discussions instead of serious issues like anxiety if you are not sure of coming up with a proper solution. After all, everyone has experienced feeling burned out at some point.

Suggested Read :7 Effective Ways to Prevent Work From Home Burnout

Here are five ways you can help your teammates and employees break the stigma around and be more open about taking a day off for their mental well-being-

1. Be More Open About Mental Health


According to recent studies , even though many employees are on the verge of mental breakdown, they choose to go to work instead of taking a leave. It is due to the fear that their employers or colleagues might look down on them for mentioning workplace depression, PTSD, or other mental health concerns. Therefore, most people don't feel the need to take a break if they're physically fit.

You can break the stigma surrounding workplace mental health issues by setting an example. The best way to do this is to lead by example. If you insist on taking a day off, you should ensure that the leadership follows suit in the company. In doing so, the rest of the employees will feel motivated.

Suggested Read: 17 Ideas For Mental Health Awareness Month Activities In Your Workplace

2. Do Not Shame Their Day Off


You may sometimes get in more sick leaves from employees, or they may ask for more time off than usual. Then as an HR, what should you do?

The correct approach is you should develop a more neutral attitude and make them feel comfortable while communicating. You should avoid throwing overwhelming questions and overdue work.

Again, if the team gets confused by one of your team member’s random day off, don't let the leadership show that. Instead, try to look at positive ways to collaborate and work together to ensure that the work gets done in an employee's absence.

3. Encourage Rest And Rejuvenation


Taking a mental health day off is to relax. So don't worry about it and try to unwind. To achieve this, encourage your employees to take or make use of their pending paid time off. Create a more open work environment to make your employees feel comfortable. They will feel free to finally use their pending time off and do things they enjoy or relax.

For an employee, here are some suggestions for spending time on your day off:

  • Reading a book
  • Spending the day at home, doing nothing
  • Spending time with loved ones
  • Doing anything that brings you joy

Studies have shown that there is a direct link between mental health and the immune system.

Suggested Read: 8 Ways To Help Employees Unwind On National Relaxation Day

4. Evaluate A More Flexible Work Culture Policy


Back-to-work culture can be overwhelming for many, post-pandemic. With almost everyone working from home for the past two years, many of your employees might feel left out. They may feel anxious about getting back on their feet and meeting new people.

Several of your employees might feel physically ill or emotionally drained upon returning to work. These could be some physical symptoms that they might need more time to recover.

To help them out, you can see if they are eligible to take another day or two off before returning to work. In fact, you can adopt a more flexible work culture policy by introducing a hybrid work culture, which can help people who are still experiencing anxiety.

Suggested Read: Coping With Social Isolation and Mental Health

5. Promoting Mental Health Awareness


According to the Centers and Prevention for Health, mental illness and substance abuse cost employers around 79 to 105 billion dollars each year. Even absenteeism plays a big role in reducing productivity and increasing health care costs. Thus, you can help your workplace be a safer place for your employees struggling with their battles and motivate them to open up.

Educating your managers and colleagues about the signs of mental health issues and how to respond to appropriately can be a good start. This is a key factor in your mental health awareness programs.

Speak more about issues like depression, traumas, anxiety, and other mental illnesses to make your employees feel included. Everyone struggles with some mental health issues, and it is healthy sometimes to take a break to deal with it.

Suggested Read : How Can Managers Support Mental Health in the Workplace

Summing It Up

Thus, mental and physical wellness go hand in hand, and you can only achieve total wellness by taking care of both. Although taking a day off from work to do nothing might seem strange at first, it will make you feel much better in the long run.

Once you take your first day off for mental health, it will become easier for you to do so in the future as well. After all, the purpose isn't to get out of work but to heal and return to work in a more relaxed, positive, and productive way.

I hope this article motivated you to take a day off for your mental health.

Frequently Asked Questions:


1. Is it okay to take a mental health day off at work?

Yes, taking a day off from work is okay to heal any mental health trouble. HRs and employers should normalize such a reason for taking leave.

2. Is mental health a reason to miss work?

Mental well-being plays a vital role, just like physical well-being. Most importantly, both of these aspects are interlinked. Hence, if you have disturbed or poor mental health, it is definitely a reason to miss work.

3. How long should a mental health break be?

The depth of a compromised mental health differs from person to person. It may take a considerable amount of time accordingly.

It may just take 15 to 20 minutes to rejuvenate, or it may also take an hour for some. Hence, the duration of a mental health break depends on the intensity of the mental distress.

This article is written by Neha Yasmin who is a content marketer at Vantage Circle. A selenophile with a penchant for discovering great meals and drinks. Is a self-proclaimed binge racer with a knack for cooking in her spare time. For queries, reach out to

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