How to Know It’s Time to Take a Mental Health Day, According to Psychologists

In July 2017 a web developer Madalyn Park emailed her colleagues to let them know she’ll be taking a day off to take care of her mental health. Her company’s CEO wrote back thanking her for helping “cut through the stigma” of mental health. Madalyn then took a screenshot of his email and posted it on her Twitter… and the post has gone viral, spreading like wildfire over all the major media and attracting huge public attention.


Because in our age of rapid-fire technology, automation and all things digital, mental health is apparently still an issue in the workplace. In fact, it seems to be more serious than ever, and costs the global economy US$ 1 trillion per year in lost productivity, according to WHO.

Our jobs require us to be ultra-involved, extra productive, and super efficient. Always on top of things, at maximum speed, at peak mental performance. Different people suffer from this pressure at different levels of intensity. There are some who deal with it with relative ease. For the most of us, though, things often become too much to handle. And when it becomes obvious that we need a break, the guilt rolls in. We are so wired to prioritize work over anything else that for lots of people it’s nearly inconceivable to put themselves, their own health and well-being first.

But think about it this way:

We would never question the importance of seeing a doctor about a fractured bone. Why should taking care of our mental health be any different? Here are the 3 cues that should make you consider taking a mental health day, according to Psychology Today:

1. You feel that you have been neglecting yourself

If you feel that you don’t get enough sleep, eat poorly (and mainly on the go), haven’t been spending enough time with your loved ones, have no time to be physically active… you might just need a short break to practice self-care. A good rest is an investment and will provide you with greater levels of energy, focus, and productivity in the near future.

2. You’re often distracted by something you need to address

If you’re so far behind with something in your life that the guilt about it becomes a permanent background noise in your head, it might be wise to just be proactive and get it out of the way to come back to the office with a fresh, less-stressed perspective.

3. You need to attend appointments to care for your mental health

Accumulating stress, if not properly dealt with, can lead to major mental and physical breakdowns, forcing you to schedule an appointment with your therapist or GP. This one is a no-brainer; at this point there is practically no way around taking a few days off to address your mental health needs.

How to make the most of a mental health day?

Mental health day setting

So what’s the trick to making the most of your much-needed self-care day?

In a nutshell: embrace relaxation guilt free. A good rest is an investment in healthy and productive life, not something to feel ashamed about. Mental health is health. A necessity, not a luxury.

A good rest is an investment in healthy and productive life, not something to feel ashamed about. Click to Tweet

Now that we’re done with the guilt part…What’s the best way to spend your time off? If you’re overwhelmed it might be a challenge to understand what you actually need, but different issues require different solutions, so you will want to reflect on the stressors you suffer most from.

Are you exhausted? Sometimes just getting a good long sleep can do the trick. Feeling isolated? Spend some quality time with your loved ones. Frustrated or bored? A ride out of town for a change of scenery might be the answer you’re looking for.

Whether you take a sick day to deal with a mental illness, emotional disorder, or just to recharge, a mental health time off might be your perfect opportunity to practice self-care. Get some quality sleep, breathe, practice mindfulness, delight in small pleasures.

Take very good care of yourself. Because if you don’t, who will?

Share this post with people in your life who seem to need a break!