When was the last time you took a mental health day off work when you needed to? If you can't remember, it's not necessarily something to wear as a badge of honour.
In 2020, it's time we all acknowledge mental health struggles as a legitimate reason for using a sick day. We're not talking about calling in sick every time you'd rather stay in bed, but doing so before you find yourself on the brink of burnout.
This is especially true in these times. Along with processing and living with the practicalities of what's happening in the news, each of us has our own unique set of circumstances outside of our jobs.
Add relationship issues, health concerns, financial struggles, family commitments, caring for loved ones and other personal weight on top of a busy job and there's a good chance you'll crumble at some point.
This is exactly what mental health days (which many companies recognise as sick days) are for. Just like you would if you had the flu or hurt your back, it's a day (or days) you're entitled to use to rest and recover.
Even though a 2017 Beyond Blue report showed one in every five Australians had taken time off due to mental illness in a 12-month period, some of us still feel (or are made to feel) uncomfortable talking to our employer about taking a mental health day.
This can lead to a bunch of really not fun things. Burnout, job dissatisfaction, poor sleep, you name it. So, we asked an expert to explain why looking after your mental health regarding work is important, and the signs you might need to take a mental health day. Like, tomorrow.
WATCH: Here's a guide to spotting and combatting workplace burnout. Post continues below.
But first, why don't we take mental health days when we need them?
Dr Michela Sorensen is a Sydney-based GP with a focus on mental health. According to her, one of the biggest barriers to people taking mental health days is perceived stigma.
"It might be a fear of being judged by others, such as colleagues or bosses, but arguably an even bigger issue is the judgement and stigma people inflict upon themselves," Dr Sorensen told Mamamia.
"In general, we're usually very open and willing to support loved ones who are struggling with their mental health, but still struggle with accepting mental illness in ourselves, and see it as a sign of 'not coping'. I often ask patients, do you see people who are struggling with their blood pressure as a failure? No. How is a physical illness any different from a mental one? It isn't."
Then, there's the worry of not wanting to waste your sick leave in case you get physically sick. But as Dr Sorensen argues, "the mind deserves the time to rest and recuperate just as much as the physical body does."