Reasons Why Taking A Mental Health Day Is A Temporary Solution

We live in a fast-paced world. In our constantly evolving, progressing, competitive worlds, we are supposed to be on our toes all the damn time. You are supposed to make the most of every opportunity and challenge that comes your way. You are supposed to be productive and focused at any given moment of the day. 

Sometimes this whole stress of being your perfect self can become too much. This is precisely where mental health days come in – a solution that most employees, employers, and institutions are turning toward to tackle burnout and work-related stress.

Mental health day is an occasional day off work with relatively less advance notice than regular leaves. Taking a mental health day is deemed necessary and justified for protecting one’s mental well-being.

Albeit important, mental health days function as mere band-aids for covering the deep wounds of work-related stress and burnout for employees. The truth is, mental health days are good. They effectively replenish and rejuvenate your energy with almost an immediate effect. Taking time off work and doing something that does not take much energy but fills you with joy is an excellent way to maintain your well-being.

However, despite these benefits, mental health days are temporary solutions to a much more significant and deeper issue. So let us dive deeper into why taking mental health days are not enough and what long-term solutions can be for supporting employee-mental health.

Taking A Mental Health Day

Reasons Why Taking A Mental Health Day Is Not Enough

1. They Are Inconsistent And Temporary Solutions.

One of the first issues with mental health days is that no one seems to agree on the actual definition of the day. There are no clear specifics of the day that can create a blanket policy for all workplaces. Currently, the whole scenario is a mess. For some employees, mental health days are a pool of leaves they can use at their will. For others whose workplaces policies aren’t as liberal, claim them as a form of de facto sick leaves. 

Additionally, the fundamental issue is that mental health days are not a permanent solution. An odd day off from work is not a substitute for a more consistent lighter, and more manageable work schedule. Instead, these days function as band-aids that do not improve employee lives in the long term. In fact, the burden of catching up with work before or after taking a mental health day adds to the overall work stress.

2. They are reactionary in nature and not preventive.

You might have seen the general process of taking a mental health day off. You are supposed to notice the signs – sleep issues, appetite changes, concentration issues, etc. All these signs are potential symptoms or, at the very least, precursors of burnout or a mental health issue.

Workers are expected to take mental health days off when these symptoms significantly hamper their work lives. Unfortunately, at this point, the effect of burnout or mental health issue gets so pronounced and strong that a mere off day from work is not able to fix them. 

3. Mental health days do not weigh in on workplace issues.

While mental health days might successfully handle what is happening outside of work, they do little to change stressful circumstances at the workplace. This way, the root cause of burnout, like lack of recognition, low compensation, tight working schedules, and unhealthy environments, remain the same. Relying on mental health days does not fix these situations, as employees return to the same conditions that forced them to leave.

Read more: What To Do When You Need A Mental Health Leave

What Can Workplaces Do Additionally?

One of the most important benefits of mental health days is their ability to spark conversations around the importance of employee mental health. But unfortunately, many of these conversations are centered around the pros and cons of mental health days instead of discussing better and long-term investments for employee mental health.

To shift the discourse, here are a few things workplaces can do instead to support employee mental health:

1. Just let employees have their time off.

The first and foremost step in the whole yes and no debate on allowing employees mental health days should be pretty self-evident at this point. No person in any company should be afraid to ask for a mental health day off. And no one should be punished or stigmatized for taking one. 

Instead, companies can go a step further to combine vacation and sick days or allow employees unlimited time off. These incentives would actually help employees make better use of their time and also instill a culture of flexibility in the workforce.

2. Create a workplace culture that supports employee mental health.

Mental health days are the very beginning of workplace policies for supporting employee mental health. A supportive culture is not created by ticking off boxes. It is actually created through long-term practices like:

  • regular training practices for managerial position holders and company leaders,
  • creating mental health employee resource groups, and
  • fostering work-life balance and encouraging employees to take care of their mental health.

Read more: Unique Ideas To Celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month 2023


Mental health days are necessary steps in encouraging conversations around employee mental health. They are essential and have their own utility when appropriately implemented. However, they cannot and should not be used as a single, all-inclusive solution for all mental health-related issues.

If you feel your mental health is suffering from work-related stress, looking for professional help is a potent way ahead. Access to professional help is now easier than ever with the advent of online therapy platforms. To learn more about online therapy platforms, click here.

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