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  • Antoinette Minor

Take a Mental Health Day


Yesterday started out like any other day.  I arrived at work, went to the kitchen to warm up breakfast and then sat at my desk to start the day.  Before putting my phone away for the day I checked Facebook and Twitter to learn that Philando Castile had been shot by law enforcement just hours after the same happened to Alton Sterling.  Naturally, I needed to know more and turned to my local news outlets and saw the video of the aftermath of his shooting.  The overwhelming feelings of hurt, shock and sadness took over.


I literally could not get myself together and start my day.  These men were not my family but members of the Black community that very well could have been my brother, father, cousin, etc.  I was angry and sad the previous day over Alton but to see it happen again just really threw me for a loop.  My mental state just wouldn't allow me to be productive in the morning.  I tried and tried only to find myself sitting in deep thought every so often and barely completing my long list of tasks.


Now imagine someone who is suffering from a death in the family, a breakup, burn out or even financial stress?  How does one take that to work and be productive enough to earn their pay?  The answer is, sometimes they can't.  What's even worst is that in some situations many people feel that its not an acceptable to take a day off from work unless you are physically ill.  The truth is that being mentally ill in any capacity is an acceptable reason to take a day off.


You do not have to be diagnosed with a mental illness to take a mental health day.  Just like any other day off, you let your employer know you are taking a day off or call out using the methods outlined in your employee handbook.  You also have a right to not have to explain yourself in detail.  Simply tell your employer that you are feeling under the weather and need a day for your well-being.  Don't let yourself nor your employer make you feel guilty for taking care of yourself mentally.  After all, your doing this to make sure you can function in your personal life and in your career.


You can plan to take your mental health day in advance which is a really great way to maintain your stress levels and to keep your mental health in check.  If you are someone who has lots of time off you can plan to take a day off during those months of the year we don't have a day off for a holiday.  When you plan to take the day off truly focus on taking care of yourself.  If sitting on the couch binge watching Netflix is what will make you destress for the day then, "you go Glen Coco!"     


I would also suggest to refrain from checking your work email or listening to voicemails on your mental health day.  Way too often we like to, "check in."  Newsflash... the problem will figure itself out and the company is not going to go under just because you took a day off from work.  Even if that did happen, life goes on.  You'll change companies, positions and even salary but the one thing that remains constant is that you have to live with yourself.  


For those dealing with overwhelming feelings in your personal life or due to the recent shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota and most recently the officers in Dallas, make sure to take care of yourself mentally.  At the end of the day that time for rest will ultimately help you to be more productive and successful in your career.  


See you at the top,

The Young Professionalist