Why mental health days might not be a good idea for everyone

In many companies around the world, a mental health day is a day where an employee takes a sick day due to mental health rather than physical health. It’s usually a “no questions asked” kind of deal.

Everyone has mental health, whether it’s good mental health or poor mental health; you don’t have to have depression to to take a day off work. However, if you do struggle with a mental illness, one day is not going to change the way you feel.

For the last two weeks, I’ve taken Monday off as holiday. Technically, I could have taken them off as “mental health days”, but I’d feel so much guilt*. A three day weekend may look appealing from the outside, but it’s not so appealing when you spend most of your time dozing in and out of sleep because you can’t bring yourself to even get out of bed and shower.

Do I feel refreshed the next day and ready for work? Does the pope shit in the woods? To answer both of these questions, no – I do not feel refreshed the next day and, to my knowledge, the pope does not shit in the woods. I could take 3 mental health days off a week and that still wouldn’t make me feel any better.

It may be fair to say that the people who take “mental health days” probably have better mental health than most. On one hand, they’re giving themselves a day to rest with absolutely no responsibilities (which definitely helps!!), and on the other hand, their mental health is good enough to benefit from just one of these days, once in a while.

Basically, what Im trying to say is, as an employed woman with poor mental health, the term “mental health day” should be renamed as it’s not a day that I, and a lot of people with extremely poor health, could benefit from. Let’s call it a wellness day where you can wake up late, focus on mindfulness and feel refreshed in the morning.

 

* Just to clarify, I wouldn’t be feeling guilty for faking my illness, I’d be feeling guilty for missing work due to my illness. It’s linked to presenteeism – a blog for another day!

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