Mental Health Day

Caragh Bailey
6 min read
Mental Health Day from Employment Law Friend

A mental health day is a day you take off of work due to your mental health. It might be because your symptoms are too severe for you to carry out your duties or for you to come into your place of work. Or, it might be so that you can spend the day focussing on your mental health pre-emptively, such as attending GP or therapist appointments, doing exercise or meditation which helps you and generally 'sorting your head out'.

A mental health day is the same as a sick day, under UK employment law.

This means that it counts as part of your sick leave allowance and you may be entitled to statutory or contractual sick pay for the days you take off, if you meet the usual criteria. You may need to provide a doctors note if you take more than 7 days off in a row.

Unfortunately, many employees are reluctant to take a mental health day, for fears that their employer will see them as 'flaky', 'unreliable' or 'weak'. A good employer will encourage you to look after your mental health so that you can bring your best self to work. However, a bad employer can make you feel worse about things and a toxic work environment may fuel 'burn-out' culture, where employees are praised for and expected to sacrifice their own wellbeing for the advancement of the company.

A 2020 article in Stylist said that 49% of people do not feel that they could take a mental health day. Only 14% of UK workers would be honest about taking a mental health day.

What can we do?

    Take the day off
Be sparing with mental health days, only use them when you need them. When you do need one, you need one! Forcing yourself to work when you're not mentally or emotionally capable is likely to make things worse for you. You also run the risk of making mistakes at work, damaging your productivity, reputation and working relationships.

    Tell your employer
If you work for a large organisation you may be able to avoid telling your line manager about the nature of your absence. Inform HR instead. Either way be clear and direct, remember that you do not have to go into details. You could even take the day off 'sick'. However, you may damage your working relationship, if your employer suspects you of being dishonest. They are more likely to assume you are 'pulling a sickie' than uncomfortable disclosing your mental wellbeing.

Many mental health issues are covered by The Equality Act 2010 under disability discrimination.

You need to make your employer aware of your mental health issues if you want to be protected by the law. However, if you have been displaying symptoms that your employer should reasonably have recognised as cause for concern, you may be still able to claim for disability discrimination in some cases.

If you've suffered any unfavourable treatment, including, but not limited to:
As a result of your mental health issues at work, raise a grievance, and contact us to arrange a phone call with one of our specialist employment solicitors

Employment Law Specialist | Competitive Quotes | Straight Talking Legal Support

    Use the day wisely
Do you need to spend the day in bed and rest, see loved ones, get some fresh air, see a professional, cook up a storm in the kitchen, or sit down and come up with a mental health strategy for long term issues?

Don't feel like you have to hide in bed all day to justify taking the time off. If switching your phone off and going to the park or the beach is what you need to clear your head and feel better, do it!

Be mindful of the long term. If you're dealing with ongoing mental health issues or long term stress, take this opportunity to get proactive, if you feel up to it. It's okay to take one day to rest and another day to 'sort your life out'. You might decide to:
  • See a GP
  • See a therapist
  • Order or read self-help material
  • Begin an exercise regime
  • Face the cause of your problem (ie. If you're stressed, depressed or anxious about money, seek financial advice)
  • Attend a support group

    Next steps
If your mental health issue is classed as a disability under The Equality Act 2010 and an aspect of your job puts you at a disadvantage because of your disability, your employer must make reasonable adjustments to take those disadvantages away.

For example:
  • You work 9-5 but your anxiety makes commuting during peak public transport times difficult. It would be unreasonable for your employer to pay for a taxi to take you to and from work every day. However, your employer allows you to work 8-4 to avoid the rush.
  • You work in an office 5 days a week but your anxiety makes the office environment difficult for you in times of stress. Your employer allows you to work from home on these days. They also give you a mentor for support and allow you 2 more absences, than other employees in a 3 month period, before you would be invited to an attendance review meeting.

You do not have to have a disability to make a flexible working request. However, your employer is not obligated to grant your request. They should follow the the ACAS code of practise on flexible working requests as minimum. If they do not, this will influence the employment tribunal's decision, if you have to bring a claim against your employer.

If you would like to change your working arrangements to help with your mental health .

You could ask for any reasonable changes to your working arrangements, such as:
  • Reduce your working hours, or split them in a job share
  • Work from home, perhaps with certain days or occasions when you will come into the office
  • Work flexi time
  • Changing your work pattern to fit in with school or college

Do you have a problem with your employer's response to your mental health?
There is much more to winning your case than simply being in the right, our specialist employment solicitors know all the laws and tactics, to make sure you get the best chance at a fair settlement. Get in contact with us and see how we can help.

Employment Law Specialist | Competitive Quotes | Straight Talking Legal Support

This content is provided free of charge for information purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. No responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by any member of our company. For employment law advice please get in contact and speak to your employment law solicitors.
Find Out More:

Talk to a Professional

If you're facing Racism in the workplace, we can help.

Just get in touch today to speak to one of our employment law specialists

Please be advised that we are a UK company and our advice applies to employment law in England and Wales, only.
Agree to Terms | Privacy Policy
We reply to all messages within 1 working day and will help wherever we can!
Employment Law Friend Privacy Promise
Employment Law Friend Privacy Promise

We promise not to share any of the information you provide, with your employer.
What you tell us, stays between us.
We're loyal like that.
grievance advice from employment law friend


One of THE most important stages is to get your grievance right.
harassment advice from employment law friend


Find out what types of harassment there are and none are acceptable.
bullying in the workplace: advice from employment law friend

Bullying at Work

No one should ever be bullied. Find out what is bullying and what you can do.
discrimination advice from employment law friend


What is discrimination? How to spot it and what you can do.
constructive dismissal advice from employment law friend


Did you have to resign or get dismissed because your employer breached your contract? Find out your rights.
redundancy advice from employment law friend


Did your employers follow the correct procedure? What is a settlement agreement?