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How to ask for a mental health day

Jasmin Aldridge stands in front of a colourfully painted wall
  • Written byRawan AlShwaiki
  • Published date 11 May 2022
Jasmin Aldridge stands in front of a colourfully painted wall

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week and one issue a lot of people struggle with is asking for time off to improve their mental health at work. If you’re feeling burned out, then it’s time to ask for a mental health day. Your mental health is as important as your physical health. Mental health awareness has come a long way compared to the past but there’s still a stigma when it comes to asking for a mental health day.

The Mental Health Foundation reports that 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions. Often, employees state a physical ailment instead of being honest so as not to appear weak or in some cases appear lazy. Our brains are powerful tools but like our bodies, they also need a break. Asking for a mental health day from work shouldn’t be something you’re afraid to do.

So, how do you ask for a mental health day? Here are a few steps to help you:

1.    Recognise the importance of your mental well-being at work.

Discussing taking a mental health day with your employer can be anxiety and stress-inducing. This can lead to hesitation and leave you thinking it’s better to force yourself to continue. But this can lead to burnout which impacts your well-being in the long term. Recognising the need for a break, especially in hustle culture, can help prevent that. Your mental state affects your productivity and performance. Taking that day out to recharge your battery gives you time to reset. Take small steps to let your boss know when you're feeling overwhelmed or stressed out. This way they will be aware of your situation and ready to give you what you need.

2.    Keep it short

Plan out what you’re going to say before having the conversation. Preparing what you’re going to say can help release some anxiety when asking for a mental health day. Be clear and concise. You don’t have to be personal when asking; instead, stay on the more general side of things. You deserve a day to recharge and take care of your mental wellbeing.

3.    Finding the right words

Remind the employer of how having a mental health day supports both of you. Not only does a mental health day improve morale, but it also creates a better working environment. It can also open the conversation for other employees to discuss mental health issues. Stating the benefits to the company also shows your loyalty and commitment as an employee. For example: “I care about my job and taking this day to reset will allow me to regroup and provide my best work.”

Looking after your mental health is so important, so don’t feel guilty about it! You won't worry about calling in sick for a broken leg, or the flu. It may not seem the same, but mental health is health.

If you are a current student at UAL, you can get mental health support through student services.