Time Off Work For Mental Illness Needs Way More Respect

It should never be the case that mental illness is less valid than a runny nose.

By By Sonya-Marie and Jon, London · March 15, 2019


Pic: Unsplash Creative Commons / Liam Stahnke

You can see when someone’s coughing a bit too much or sniffling profusely. You’d advise them to take a day off, right? Most people would.

But what if someone’s having a bad day because of their mental health? Telling them “just meditate” or “think happy thoughts” just isn’t good enough. Some people think that this kind of a bad day isn’t enough to take time off work.

It should never be the case that mental illness is less valid than a runny nose.

The importance of a break

We’ve all had sad days. Days where the thought of interacting with other living creatures makes you physically sick. Those days where being alone for just a moment would make all the difference. So why can’t we be alone? Why can’t we take a break for ourselves, rather than only being allowed to take a break for the flu that we caught?

We take care of the workplace, why can’t we take care of ourselves?

When you’re sick, people tell you to stay at home, so no one else catches the disease. You might not be able to catch a mental illness, but that doesn’t make a mental illness any less valid, or crippling. People working in depressive or anxious mind-sets often produce worse work. When you are in a self-critical mindset, workplace criticism doesn’t make the situation any better.

We can’t put people in situations that are detrimental to their health just because we can’t see the symptoms. If someone is not in a fit position to work, they shouldn’t have to. We should be letting them take necessary breaks.

Pic: Unsplash Creative Commons / Bethany Legg

It’s not being lazy

It’s called being ill. If you are not ok, you are not ok, no matter the reason. Time off when needed will boost morale at work and allow people to feel safe and valued in the workplace. This makes any and all establishments fundamentally better off.

Overall, everyone has off-days, and everyone should be entitled to rests. As a society, we should be striving to recognise mental illness on the same level as physical illness.