professional development

Written By: DiveThru Team

Reviewed By: Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW


How to Ask for a Mental Health Day From Work

PUBLISHED Jan 5th, 2021 & UPDATED ON Nov 10th, 2022

Sometimes, we just need to take a mental health day from work. Our brains can only take so much before they need a break. Looking after your mental health is so important, so don’t feel guilty about it! It’s just as important as your physical health. We know that sounds super cheesy and that people say this all the time, but it’s true! If your mind isn’t cared for, you can’t care for the rest of your body.

A lot of us feel no shame when it comes to talking about our mental health with our friends and people we trust. If you’re anything like us, we like to compare medications with our friends to see if we are on the same brand and dose. We also looove talking about therapy and what diagnoses we have too. Nothing is off-limits! Let’s talk about it all!

Also, it’s 2022. The topic of mental health and needing a mental health day shouldn’t be considered a taboo subject anymore!

The only problem is that a lot of us feel awkward when it comes to asking for a mental health day from work. We want to prove to our bosses that we’re good employees and that we care about our jobs, but a lot of us feel guilty when calling in and asking for a mental health day. It’s been drilled into us that if we aren’t physically sick, we should still be able to go to work. But you shouldn’t feel that way!

Most employers these days are pretty understanding if you ask for a mental health day, but it can still be scary approaching them. So, if you aren’t sure how to ask for a mental health day or if you don’t know how, we’ve got you covered.

1. Don’t Say More Than You Need To

If you don’t want to have to explain why you need a mental health day, then don’t. Sometimes shit gets really personal and if you don’t want to talk to your employer about what’s going on, you’re not obligated to!

If they ask you why you need a mental health day, you can just say that you don’t feel comfortable talking about it. If they press you for more info, that’s kindddd of weird in our opinion.

You don’t owe anyone an explanation about why you need a mental health day. Including your boss!

2. Keep It Short

You don’t have to tell a whole story to your boss to justify why you need a mental health day. You can simply say, “Hey I need a mental health day. Do you mind if I take today off?”

Short. Sweet. To the point. They’ll likely say yes anyway, so you don’t need to tell them all the details about your situation. They’ll probably be sympathetic regardless of how much they know or don’t know. So just keep it simple!

3. Be Direct

Don’t skirt around the issue and be sheepish about it. Just say what you need to say – your boss will appreciate the honesty. Being direct also prevents there from being any miscommunication between the two of you. That way they don’t think that you’re still coming in to work. Clarity is key!  


4. Ask as Soon as You Can

This way you don’t end up putting anyone in a tough position at work. The sooner you ask to take a mental health day, the sooner you can get things prepped in case anyone has to take over some of your duties at work.

Asking sooner will also alleviate the stress of having to ask for a mental health day too! Many of us get realllyy anxious when we have to talk to a person of authority (especially our bosses), so having to ask for a mental health day can seem like a really stressful thing to do. 

But, the sooner you ask, the more time you’ll have to rest and recoup.

5. Practice What You’re Going to Say

If you’re nervous about talking to your boss, practice what you’re going to say first. That way you won’t trip up on your words and will know exactly what you’re going to say and how to say it.

Doing this gives you a little more confidence going into the conversation because you won’t have to improv your way through it. You’ll be prepared and scripted!

6. Write Out a List of Reasons Why You Need Your Mental Health Day

Write down a list of why you need your mental health day. Have it nearby while calling your boss to ask for a mental health day. That way, if they try to still get you to come in, you have your list there to remind you why you’re asking for this day off.

This list can be for your eyes only! It can just be there as a reminder for you to stand your ground and make your boundaries clear. You deserve a break!

7. Think of Possible Reactions and Have Responses Ready 

Although we like to believe that your boss will be understanding, there is the possibility that they won’t. Prepare for every possible scenario juuuuust in case. That way you’re never caught off guard and know exactly how to communicate what you need for yourself. 

8.  You Don’t Have to Say It’s for Mental Health

You don’t have to say that you need a mental health day if you aren’t comfortable disclosing that. You could say something along these lines instead:

I don’t feel well today.

I have a migraine.

I think I have the flu.

 If saying that you need a mental health day is causing you more stress and anxiety than if you were to take a sick day, then take a sick day! Only disclose what you’re comfortable with.

Asking for a mental health day from work shouldn’t be something you’re afraid to do. It’s actually really brave and incredibly commendable that you’re asking. If no one in your office has ever taken a mental health day before, you’re actually blazing a trail for them! Break that stigma, baby!

Read More: Self-Sabotage: What Is It & How Do We Stop Doing It?, 6 Ways To Take Care of Yourself While Working Night Shifts,