Man taking a mental health day walking his dog

Do I need a mental health day?

Most of us don’t hesitate to take a day off from work when we have the flu, when we break a bone or even when we’ve got some weird cough that just doesn’t seem to want to go away. But when it comes to taking a mental health day we seem far less inclined.

Most of us work in busy environments where more and more is expected from us and everybody wants everything yesterday. Sometimes our brain just needs a break to recharge, to improve our energy, motivation, mood and productivity.

Most of us don’t want to admit that we’re mentally worn down. We like to think that we’re invincible and admitting that we have not, even to ourselves can be difficult.


Taking a mental health day can have many benefits

First of all it helps bring down your stress levels. This not only makes you more productive when you return but can leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated to tackle any challenges in the workplace.

But how do you know if you’re pushing it a little too hard? 

Keep an eye out for some of these warning signs: 

  • You feel unmotivated, disgruntled and just overall negative about work
  • A lot of the time you feel angry, irritable or anxious
  • You seem to be always sick – you might constantly get colds, have headaches, muscle tension or psoriasis[1].

PWC and the Australian National Health Commission did some research into mental health in the workplace and found that anxiety and depressive disorders cost more than a trillion dollars globally in lost productivity each year. So mental health days don’t just benefit the employee, but the employer benefits as well[2].

The majority of companies have policies in place for mental health but it can still be difficult to take a mental health day. This could be for many reasons. You might feel guilty or you might have a manager who doesn’t believe sick days cover mental health.


So, how do you ask the boss? 

It’s best to plan your mental health day in advance so that your tasks for the day can be covered and any meetings you may have be rescheduled. If you work at a company that doesn’t have a mental health policy or the kind of boss that still believes that mental health isn’t a ‘thing’, then planning ahead might not be an option. That doesn’t mean that you can’t take a mental health day, it just means that you might need to approach it differently either by taking a traditional sick day or a day of annual leave.


What to do on your mental health day? 

The short answer is, whatever you want.

The long answer is you should do whatever you can to bring down your stress levels, recharge and relax. This of course will be totally different for everyone and you might already know the things that help you chill out.

For those of us who are used to running at one hundred miles an hour with no down time, no hobbies and no idea of what to do to relax, here are a couple of ideas:

  • Stay on the couch and binge watch that Netflix show you’ve been wanting to see
  • Go for a long walk
  • Get a massage
  • Indulge in some retail therapy
  • Take a yoga class
  • Get a haircut
  • Sleep in or take a nap
  • Practice mindfulness.

The key is to do whatever makes you feel good. You will be surprised at how refreshed a minibreak can make you feel and the wonders it can do for you mental health.


If you would like to talk to somebody about your mental health, mental health days, if and when you should take one and what to do on that day, feel free to call Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

If it is an emergency, dial 000.