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How to know when it is the right time to take a Mental Health Day off from work.

Updated: May 5, 2021

We live in a fast paced world, and many of us work jobs that are very demanding both physically and emotionally. We are working longer hours, and marrying ourselves to jobs that we aren’t necessarily happy with. According to a study by Bensinger, Dupont and associated , one in five millennial employees report experiencing depression and anxiety, as compared to 16% of older employees. Recent studies by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration show that more than 41 million Americans experience some type of mental illness in any given year. Those statistics are staggering, and are only expected to continue to grow as more millennials enter the workforce.

The key to getting through rough patches while working difficult jobs is to give ourselves the breaks we need WHEN we need them, and by utilizing mental health days. Mental health and wellness nonprofit, Mental Health America, says mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety costs the United States economy more than $51 billion a year in absenteeism from work and lost productivity, and $26 billion in direct treatment costs. Because of these statistics many larger companies are getting on board with offering mental health days along with other paid time off (PTO) options to help employees navigate difficult times they may be going through.

However, many employees don’t take the time off of work that they need, in fear of being treated differently because of the stigma attached to mental illness. Employees can have all of the mental health resources they need provided to them but if they do not utilize them then the efforts are for not. Here are some tips to recognize when it is time to take a mental health day off from work.

You're starting to dread going to work

This feels different from your average day of not wanting to go to work simply because you would rather be at home enjoying Netflix. When it becomes nearly impossible to pull yourself out of bed because of the anxiety associated with your job, it may be time to consider taking that day off.

You are starting not to care about yourself or your work

If you are continuing to mess up at work and simply do not care about the work you are doing, or about the possibility of getting fired, you should probably take a day off to evaluate what is important to you and what is not, and to hard reset your attitude towards your job. You may find out that your job isn’t worth the stress and anxiety and even depression that it may be causing you daily.

You’re becoming hostile with coworkers

We can all have those moments when coworkers irritate us and get on our nerves. However, when you start becoming very hostile with your work peers for little to no reason it may be a sign that you need to take a break from them and rest your nerves.

You’ve had one of “those” drives home.

When I worked in local television I had many drives home where I would be in tears. The stress of the day would catch up with me and I would seemingly lose all control and just let loose. If you have those types of days frequently, you should look into taking a mental health day and resting from the stressors.

There are other signs to recognize when you should take a mental health day. For example, if you are feeling disconnected or unable to focus, or if you keep getting physically sick or unable to get a good night’s rest it may be time for you to take the time for yourself. If you had a stomach bug, you wouldn’t hesitate to call into work. If you broke your leg you would take the time off work to heal. Care for your mental well being in the same way that you would care for your physical health, and make being mental well a top priority. If you are feeling like you need more than a mental health day to get back on track, consider seeing a professional to help you navigate the difficulties you may be struggling with.

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