Our Education Blogger is a public school teacher with over a decade of experience. She’s an active NEA member and enjoys writing about her experiences in the classroom.
Teachers are some of the sickest people I know. And I don’t mean the modern slang definition of “sick” as in “super cool” (although teachers are really cool). Because of the nature of our jobs, we are prone to illness, both physically and mentally.
When we have a physical illness, like bronchitis or the stomach flu, we take sick days to recover. Mental health issues are no different. If we don’t take time to address our mental well-being, work performance suffers, and the unaddressed illness can worsen. Treat your mental well-being as you would your physical health.
When Should I Take A Mental Health Day?
According to Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and author of “How to Know When to Take a Mental Health Day” (Psychology Today, July 2017), there are a few instances when you should seriously consider taking a mental day:
- When you’re distracted by something you need to address
- When you’ve been neglecting yourself
- When you need to attend appointments to care for your mental health
What Do I Say To My Administrator?
Simple: “I don’t feel well enough to come to school.” No need to lie or make up an excuse. Just be honest.
What Do I Do On My Day Off?
Don’t sleep all day or spend hours watching TV, these can exacerbate any mental issues that may be going on. Instead, connect with friends or family, go for a walk, read a book, or take a short nap. If needed, take care of any pressing financial matters or accomplish important tasks you’ve been putting off.
Are Mental Health Days Considered Personal or Sick Time?
It depends on your employer. Ideally, mental health should be considered a health issue, just as a physical illness. However, many employers still don’t see it that way. Ask your administrator what your district or building policy is regarding taking mental health days as part of your sick leave. If you can’t take a sick day, consider taking personal time.
I am lucky to have an administrator who is empathetic and allows, and even encourages, teachers to use sick time to take mental health days. He understands his teachers need to be in their best health in order to do their best job.
Taking a day off for you mental well-being is essential to your overall health. So, allow yourself to take a day to recharge and regroup.