What is a mental health day?

A mental health day can consist of taking a day off work or school to focus on emotional wellness. It’s similar to a sick day, except that you don’t need to have a physical ailment to use it.

Some common reasons people take mental health days are:

  • feeling burnt out from day-to-day job responsibilities
  • dealing with personal mental health issues
  • working through grief
  • experiencing an imbalance between work and home

What is this site for?

Use mentalhealth.day as a status in your workplace’s chat apps (“I’m taking a mentalhealth.day”), as your out of office auto-reply email, or on social media to indicate you’re taking a break. Spreading awareness and normalizing self-care are important ways to destigmatize mental health.

To personalize who the day is for, add your name or handle via ?for= when linking to the site:

What should I do on a mental health day?

  • Get outside - Being outside and in nature has been proven to improve mood and reduce stress levels. Activities like forest bathing can lead to a wide range of both physical and mental benefits.
  • Rest - If you’re feeling consistently tired, or are dealing with anxiety/depression, you may need more rest than you’re getting. Try sleeping until you naturally wake up, asking your partner to get the kids up that morning, or prioritizing time for an afternoon nap during the day.
  • Active rest - Explore relaxation or wellness programs or apps, which may incorporate meditation, muscle relaxation, or breathing exercises. Schedule regular times for these and other healthy activities you enjoy such as journaling.
  • Set goals and priorities - Decide what must get done now and what can wait. Learn to say “no” to new tasks if you start to feel like you’re taking on too much. Try to be mindful of what you have accomplished at the end of the day, not what you have been unable to do.
  • Practice gratitude - Remind yourself daily of things you are grateful for. Be specific. Write them down at night, or replay them in your mind.
  • Focus on positivity - Identify and challenge your negative and unhelpful thoughts.
  • Stay connected - Reach out to your friends or family members who can provide emotional support and practical help.

Need more than just a day off?

For urgent help in the United States, dial 988 to reach the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. For outside the US, check To Write Love On Her Arms’ international resources.

Seek professional help if you are experiencing severe or distressing symptoms that have lasted 2 weeks or more, such as:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Appetite changes that result in unwanted weight changes
  • Struggling to get out of bed in the morning because of mood
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Loss of interest in things you usually find enjoyable
  • Inability to perform usual daily functions and responsibilities

Don’t wait until your symptoms are overwhelming. Talk about your concerns with your primary care provider, who can refer you to a mental health professional if needed. If you don’t know where to start, read the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Tips for Talking With a Health Care Provider About Your Mental Health. Learn more about how to get help or find a provider on the NIMH’s Help for Mental Illnesses webpage.