Struggling with mental health? Want a break from work but afraid of the consequences? No need to worry! You can still take time off for mental health and not risk your job security. Here’s how:
Talking to an employer about mental health is hard. Before having the conversation, know your rights. Finding ways to communicate without fear is key.
Formulating a plan and having an honest talk will help. This way you can call in sick for mental health reasons without worrying about your job.
What is Mental Health?
Mental health is a state of well-being. It means one can acknowledge their abilities and manage life’s stresses. This also involves being productive and making a contribution to the community. Mental health is more than no mental disorder – it includes psychological and social well-being.
Various psychological disorders can affect an individual’s mental health. These are depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, OCD, PTSD, schizophrenia, and personality disorders. In addition, lifestyle factors such as excessive drinking/drug use, lack of exercise, and poverty can negatively affect mental well-being.
Mental health illnesses are real medical conditions that can influence a person’s life. People should be aware of the signs, such as anxiety and sadness, which disrupt their daily activities or relationships. If feeling overwhelmed, it is useful to chat with a healthcare professional.
How to Recognize When You Need to Take a Mental Health Day?
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) states, “Mental health is essential for overall health. It involves emotions, psychology, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act.” To stay healthy, sometimes it’s necessary to take an unplanned rest day from work or other commitments. This is especially true for people with long-term mental illness.
When thinking about a mental health day, it’s important to make sure you really need it. Signs that you need time off include:
- Trouble concentrating
- Sleeping too much or too little
- No motivation or energy
- Changes in behavior or attitude
- Overwhelming stress
If any of these signs apply to you, it might be time for a break. Checking in with yourself is key to staying healthy, no matter the job.
How to Talk to Your Employer About Mental Health?
When discussing mental health with your employer, be honest. Illustrate how your mental health affects your work and any special scenarios that are relevant to the discussion. Tell them that taking time off is beneficial to both of you in the long run.
Explain that mental health issues don’t always affect work performance or attendance, but rather one’s security and vitality at their job. Show that steps have been taken to manage the condition, like meeting with a therapist or working out.
Reassure that it’s about being honest and open, so trust between employee and employer isn’t diminished. This creates a supportive atmosphere for employees, where they don’t feel judged for needing help.
Tips for Calling in Sick With Mental Health
If you’re feeling unwell, mentally or physically, and need to take time off work, it can be hard to know how to communicate your needs without affecting your job. Sadly, the stigma of mental health can make this difficult. Here are some tips to help you talk to your employer respectfully, while still being clear.
- Be honest: Don’t downplay your mental health issue. You have the right to take care of yourself, and open communication about your experience will help people understand and respect your boundaries.
- Mention supports: If your work offers EAP, mental health days off, counseling services, or other emotional support, mention it when calling in sick due to mental health issues. This shows you’re aware of any workplace initiatives.
- Check policies: There may be protocols for taking mental health days off with transparency and respect. Read Human Resources documentation to feel more secure when talking to managers and colleagues.
- Offer timeline: If possible, give an estimate of how long you’ll need, plus the next steps to monitor your progress.
- Ask for confidentiality: Ask for confidential conversations if needed. WHO recognizes resting at home due to mental health as a necessity, and there are employment laws concerning medical leave allowances in many industries. Respect individual privacy, and ensure information is securely collected, classified, and verified. Follow regulations, audits, and verification procedures, and ensure decisions are accepted, proposed, signed, acknowledged, and practiced.
What to Do After Calling in Sick With Mental Health
Once you have let your employer know that you will be absent due to mental health, take these steps for security.
Firstly, get a healthcare professional’s written document. It should include the amount of time off, the reason, and further treatment or activities. Share this with your employer. Keep track of your symptoms and any changes that could stop recovery.
Second, check in with your employer while away. Even a quick email is enough. Provide notes to help them understand the duration and nature of your health needs.
Finally, remember it takes time to return to full productivity. Ask for reasonable accommodations. This helps employees and stops relapses.
How to Manage Mental Health in the Workplace
Mental health is important, but managing it in the workplace can be tricky and dangerous. The last thing you want is to worry about your job or be stigmatized for asking for help. Here are tips for calling in sick with a mental health condition without risking your job:
- Talk to Someone Before – Speak to your doctor, psychiatrist, or an employee assistance program if available before you call in sick.
- Provide Limited Details – Tell your employer that you need time off, but don’t go into detail. Keep it professional and mention any relevant legal protection plans like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
- Focus on Return Date – When discussing time away, focus on when you anticipate returning and not “if”. Have a plan for managing your stress for when you return.
- Get Support – Have people who will support and encourage you while taking time off. Reach out to family and close friends who understand.
- Have Follow-Up Plan – Ensure there is a plan between you and your manager prior to taking leave. This includes expectations of communication while away and when you return.
At the end of the day, wanting to be silent when dealing with mental health in the workplace is understandable. There are stigmas that could make it complicated.
Speaking and taking care of yourself could help preserve your job security. With responsible communication and support, you could experience better outcomes.
Be aware of laws in your state or country that protect individuals with mental illness. Knowing this can help take action before things get more complicated.