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Mental Health Sick Days

When I first wound up in therapy about 15 years ago, my therapist continuously emphasized the need to take my mental health seriously. Through several difficult situations in my life, I didn't take the time to rest. Instead, I worked harder, ignored my feelings and thoughts, and continued to meet the expectations that I would push on despite the emotional signs that I was in distress. What a way for a therapist to act! Completely lacking in self-compassion! 


Everyone needs to look after their mental health and will periodically have struggles with it. It's time society started acknowledging this. 

Mental health stigma is why parents with children who struggle with mental health conditions get judged by others rather than get casseroles and support. If their children were struggling with cancer or a physical disability, these parents would get compassion. Let that sink in. This is a tragedy the way we treat these parents. 


Mental Health Sick Days: Internalized Stigma


If you are suffering from mental health issues, you may not be ready to take on the world, but you can prioritize your mental health, make time for it and look after it.  You can work to recognize when you have internalized the stigma and how it is making you worse.


Stigma causes you to feel ashamed, worry about disclosing your condition in the workplace, be fearful about talking about your mental health issues with friends, and blame yourself for your illness. 


Mental Health Sick Days: Stigma in the Workplace


Unfortunately, most workplaces do not have a positive attitude about mental illness and do not have a policy where employees are given mental health days. I watch clients' lives transform when they move under more accommodating managers. They thrive and become healthier and more productive when they can be honest about their struggles and have more flexibility and compassion. 


If you are privileged enough to have sick and personal time, know that a mental health day IS a sick day. Why should you be punished because your brain doesn't make the right serotonin levels or have more inflammation in your body? You did not ask for your mental health struggles. 


The way we treat those who are suffering from mental illness in society is a form of violence. Please don't participate in it by being violent towards yourself. 


Why take Mental Health Sick Days? Mental Health IS Physical Health.


Your mental health is always connected with your physical body. Often we are so disembodied that we don't recognize anxiety and depression in our bodies. However, it will eventually take its toll on our bodies if we don't pay attention. If we don't say "No," our body will say no for us in the form of illness. 


In families, workplaces, and societies where members who struggle with their mental health are treated with more compassion, they thrive. For example, people suffering from psychotic disorders in India and Ghana have auditory hallucinations with benign and playful voices, while in the US, they are harsh and threatening. 


If you treat yourself or talk to yourself as lazy, defective, or a burden, you will worsen. We don't need to pretend, ignore or minimize our struggles when we have mental health challenges; we need to treat ourselves and others with the same compassion we would with a physical illness.


If you have sick and personal days, please start to take mental health sick  days. Use that time to see your therapist, practice self-care, get in nature, do yoga, rest, spend time with a family, journal or evaluate whether you need to do more for your mental health. 


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Medical information obtained from this website is not intended as a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you have a problem, you should consult a healthcare provider.