It goes without saying that 2020 has been a challenging year for everyone, circuit breakers, social distancing, job disruptions, layoffs and pay cuts have increased workers level of mental health stresses and anxiety.
As the pandemic drags on you may feel like your stress levels have reached their peak, it is probably time to take a quick break to reset. Sometimes taking a short break to focus on your mental health and coping — specifically with stress relief and burnout prevention—is the best thing you can do for yourself. Taking a mental health day is totally your right, but the way you approach requesting it may depend on your particular workplace culture.
If you’re struggling to ask your boss for a mental health day break, don’t fret. A we celebrate World Mental Health Day: follow these 5 tips on how to request for a mental health break with your boss.
1. Figure out your why.
I think the first step is being clear with yourself about why a mental health day is needed. Is it burnout, exhaustion, family issues, disruptive changes, anxiety, etc.? As different stress factors require different responses, and different types of mental health days. Once you are clear with why YOU need the day, it is easier to communicate that to your superiors.
2. Check your employee handbook.
A lot of us don’t take the time to check out the company's policy first. Talk to the Human resources department to see if a precedent has already been set. Maybe, it is something that is already permitted. If not, don't worry – you can be a trailblazer and be the first one in the firm to make the request.
3. Plan your ask in advance.
Making a case for a mental health break or any career break should not be taken lightly. You are after all about to walk into the person who ultimately pays your bills and tell them you need to take time off – best to give your hiring manager adequate notice. You’ll likely be surprised by how encouraging your employer is and, if you give enough notice, you might be lucky enough for them to keep the door open for future breaks.
4. Ask with confidence.
Your approach, if I’m being honest all depends on firstly, whether your company is supportive of work-life balance and mental healthcare and secondly, on the size and scale of your break is it just a day or a week, and what is your relationship with your workplace full-time – part-time etc... Either way, being straightforward and honest with your employer is essential. Clarity is king at this stage and will hopefully lead to positive responses from your manager.
5. If you don't feel comfortable citing mental health as the reason you need a day off, then don't.
Talking about mental health in the workplace unfortunately is still surrounded by stigma and misunderstanding. For those lucky enough have employers who prioritize mental health asking for a break based on mental issues is not a problem. But for those that don’t have the supportive work culture – you don’t have to cite mental health reasons I would explain areas of burnout and its impact on your productivity.
Asking your employer for any career break can be at best an awkward, and at worst a frightening experience (it really shouldn’t be). But if you know your rights and know it’s the right thing for you, and your work you should know that you should have no issues about asking.
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