Published on January 15th, 2019 by Alan L. Sklover
“The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: It is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.”
– C. S. Lewis
ACTUAL CASE HISTORY: Last month an article entitled “How to Ask for a Mental Health Day” appeared in the Wall Street Journal, written by “Work & Life” columnist Sue Shellenbarger. Sue is a well known and well regarded writer on matters of “Work & Life.” I respect and admire her very much. On this subject, in my opinion, she was entirely wrong in her approach and conclusion on this subject.
When I saw the title of the column, I gulped; I said to myself, “She can’t be recommending people request ‘mental health’ days, could she?” When I read the column, I gasped; she seemed to be headed that way. When I finished reading her piece, I groaned; sure enough, she seemed to be recommending that people be “honest” and ask their managers for “mental health” days off when they were needed.
LESSON TO LEARN: While I fully recognize that there is a stigma attached to having a mental health illness, I also view the phrase “mental health day” to be both an inappropriate use of that phrase, and laden with several, substantial and entirely unnecessary risks.
Also, while I dedicate much of my life to improving the world we live in, I also recognize that it is almost always unwise to create or accept unnecessary risks in doing so. My view is that it is 100% unnecessary, unwise and potentially hazardous to your job, your career and your reputation to request a “mental health day” at work, as well as, in itself, a touch dishonest. So, “Just Don’t Do It.”
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Instead, let’s just deal with the issue before us: feeling angry, spent, cranky, even on the verge of tears? Not sure you will be able to hold onto your temper if you go to work? Ready to explode at a work colleague? I get it; I’ve been there. But in such events, I strongly urge you to never, ever ask for a “mental health day” at work. Here are my thoughts:
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