When Can You Call in Sick for Mental Health?
If you have a mental health condition and find yourself feeling down or unable to concentrate, it may be time to take a break. However, calling in sick for mental health can be a tricky decision to make and some people fear that their boss will be less than understanding.
It’s no secret that mental health conditions impact a staggering one in five adults in any given year, yet many people struggle to get help because of stigma or the fear of repercussions at work. This means that employees aren’t able to reach their full potential, which is an expensive cost for business owners and society at large.
There’s an unwritten code in most workplaces that calls for valid reasons to call in sick: physical illness, injury or family emergencies. This isn’t always the case, though, and the idea of taking a day off for stress, anxiety or depression can feel frowned upon.
That’s why you should be aware of your rights and understand how to go about asking for a mental health day off from work. First, you should know that Australians are entitled to 10 days of paid personal leave per year (sometimes called personal/carer’s leave).
Then, you need to find out whether your employer is prepared to let you take this time off — and then be clear about exactly how long you’ll be out of the office.
You should also give your employer plenty of notice to plan for your absence, so they don’t have to worry about putting the whole office on hold. In the end, this will help to ensure that your work will still be done and you’ll still receive pay.
Lastly, you’ll need to follow up with your boss after you return and make sure that things are going smoothly, so that you can resume your duties as soon as possible. It’s also important to check in with your human resources team and other relevant contacts to keep them updated on what’s happening, so that everyone is aware of how you’re recovering.
Talking about your mental health is an excellent way to de-stigmatise the condition, Nagle-McNaughton says. This will help to dispel the myths surrounding it, and it can also be a great opportunity to show your colleagues that you are committed to getting well.
If you have a friend or colleague who works for the same company as you, they may be able to offer some support and advice. This can help you to navigate the process of asking for a mental health day off, as well as helping to reduce the stress and anxiety that often come with it.
The most common mental health condition is depression, which is a major cause of missed work and poor productivity. This is why taking a break for your mental health is so essential.
You should be aware that some employers won’t accept requests for a mental health sick day, despite the fact that you have a right to do so under the National Employment Standards. For example, the Fair Work Ombudsman states that your employer cannot discriminate against you simply because you’re dealing with a mental health issue.