What to say for calling in sick with depression?

In this blog, we will answer the question, “What to say for calling in sick with depression”, and also cover what depression is, mental health at the workplace, and also includes some frequently asked questions. 

What to say for calling in sick with depression?

One must not forget about the stigma of mental health issues around one’s surroundings and reasons as such can lead people to hide their illness in their workplace or amidst employees/employers. 

You can say that you are not feeling up for work today and would like to take the day off because this is the need of the hour. We will explore in detail how to call in sick with depression with certain tips to take that conversation on the phone.

Work and depression can be a heavy combination to deal with. While everybody realizes the importance of sticking with your work duties and being loyal to them, if time off is required for cases otherwise, it must be considered seriously.

If you try working even when you are having a day that is a struggle in itself, then you won’t be able to focus on your work.

If you try working when you are not doing well mentally and emotionally, you will feel exhausted physically as well as mentally which also can lead to burnout and even more serious physical and mental conditions. 

Depression across the world

Globally depression remains a huge obstacle for over 300 million people according to WHO, plenty of times we can not pursue the usual routines of our day because of disturbed mental health and therefore we struggle with explaining to our employer when it comes to taking a day off due to mental health issues like anxiety or depression.

Depression and Workplace

Sometimes it is sad that your colleagues think you’re just being coy and lazy taking all these sick leaves but then there isn’t much you can individually do about it. 

Everybody has different experiences, for some people, fellow workers are supportive and the employer isn’t. For some people, the case can be otherwise and for some people, it can be a kind and empathetic atmosphere in the workplace that helps or just the opposite that bothers them.

A lot of employees feel vexed and are unable to decide how to approach their boss when it comes to opting for sick leave due to depression or anxiety, they are faced with the question “what to say when calling in sick with depression?”

Calling in sick with depression at work? Use the following tips

  • Let your organization know about your mental health- We all should start talking about our mental health just like we feel comfortable about our physical health.
  • You must have a plan of what you are going to present to your employer because it is completely plausible for you to be very overwhelmed if you wish for a mental health day.
  • Do not go on raving about your illness unnecessarily, keep your conversations short and crisp. 
  • Don’t try to over-explain or get into a lot of details.
  • Present whatever documents are required to assert your reason for taking a leave.
  • Make sure the HR department of your organization knows, just in case you need extra support.
  • Keep a track of your sick leave’s progress.
  • Seek the help of a therapist to work through your issues and lead a better life.

If you’re facing this, it may be a good idea to seek the help of a therapist or other mental health professional. You can find a therapist at BetterHelp who can help you learn how to cope and address it.

What does the research say about employees and depression?

Research shows that although a considerable number of employees wish to take leave to secure their mental health for valid reasons, only a tiny percentage of people can really take the days off.

As for legal support, laws vary from state to state and country to country and all employers must be made aware of their rights and provisions. 

Also, every employer is deemed to be aware of general guidelines regarding the inquiry of a person’s mental health and no invasive questionnaire should be put forward to the employee.

While laws are supportive of employees suffering from poor mental health, a solid change can occur if the people in the workplace also become more empathetic and understanding, only then the stigmatization of depression can be decreased.

Mental health at the workplace

A lot of sensitization has been brought up around depression and other mental health-related concerns. We hope that it only increases and organizations create that safe space where there is a healthy dialogue about mental health.

The feelings of loss, sadness, frustration, and constant worrying can take a huge toll on people’s everyday lives. It can affect your personal as well as professional relationships. Disruption of sleep patterns and a lack of appetite is also coupled with depression.

Should you lie in order to secure a mental health day?

No, do not indulge in telling lies when you need a mental health day. A mental health day for you is supposed to keep you away from a possible breakdown or burnout due to stress-related to or not working. 

You can just state that you do not wish to come for work today but shouldn’t be faking a fever or squeezing cough either.

So when you ring your employer to ask for a sick day, do not overstate how you are feeling right now and why you need the day off and neither downplay it all nor defend yourself. 

When you call for a physical sick leave, it is quite acceptable when you say that you are a bit under the weather and you would like to take the day off, it should be as simple as that. 

Perhaps you can tell your boss that you have been quite run-down or are exhausted. You can not be fired for your mental health-related issues as there are laws regarding that in place in various countries. 

Also when calling in sick for depression you should try to not indulge in face-to-face conversations and instead try texting or emails so that your stress levels and anxiousness do not rage high. 

While you focus on presenting your reasons for a sick day also do not forget to let your boss know when you will be coming next or able to wrap up some work from home or if you are too sick to respond to any workplace load simply say so.

You do not need to disclose your mental health situation if it is not required. If in case it is affecting your relationship with your coworkers or your boss then you might give it a try to explain it to them. 

At the same time, it also depends on what kind of relationship you, your team and your boss have. If you realize that giving away your details of mental health gives your boss a chance to cut down your chances of a promotion or a remuneration then it is better not to talk about it to him. That kind of lack of support can discourage you from opening up about your illness.

Role of doctors and mental health professionals

To boost your claim for a sick day contact your general physician or your therapist if you have one for an assessment, also do not forget to meet with your General physician again when you start to feel better so that your progress can be attested by a healthcare professional for the validity of your claim. 

Try to be as honest as you can be with your GP so that a clear picture of your mental health status can be built by him.

If your medical professional deems that you are not eligible for working in your present situation then they can provide you a note. 

The note can state about your conditions not being good enough for you to continue working in the workplace. The note can also suggest on your behalf if there is a requirement of some alteration in your workplace.

Perhaps the changes can include a slow and steady return of yours in the workplace, alteration in the duties related to your post in the workplace, change within your work schedule and work hours. 

If your depression is really severe you should probably speak openly about this to your employer and if your employer does not comply then you can always present the note with your medical professional.

Some employers can really be pricks, as people report their employers responding to their leave due to mental health sickness with “snap out of it”

, “get over it”, “take a Xanax” and then you are judged as this crazy, lethargic person.

The employer is supposed to react empathetically and let the employee know about resources for their help if possible and not say “deal with it”.

The employees are also prone to guilt and shame for “freeloading” on a sick day, but it is not your fault. It is the right thing to do or you will end up hurting yourself all the more. 

Your depression/anxiety is no less real than you being sick due to fever. An occasional break when you realize that it is getting too much won’t hurt anyone. The guilt will end up making you feel all the more depressed, you should rather relax and try taking your mind off from the worries of your workplace.

Mental health is still a taboo 

Unfortunately, mental health days are still considered a huge thing in a lot of workplaces, and how your boss favors it is still more important than your sickness. 

Perhaps you can always check out the company policy once before choosing to talk to your boss about your mental health. 

So if the policy is not in favor of your mental health then you can just call in sick and make up an excuse, or whatever that’s prevalent in your company culture, it is not a healthy practice but in the meantime, it can work for you. It can be tiring if you speak in a straightforward manner about your mental health, so sometimes taking the easy way out is not wrong.


If you think that voicing out your worries about your mental health in your workplace can lead to judgment or might harm your reputation or can compromise your post or affect your work relationships and in the worst case lead to termination of your job then you can opt for the above-mentioned ways and tips of approaching your boss.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): What to say for calling in sick with depression?

Is the corporate culture making you depressed?

The culture of the corporate world is usually abrasive and of high competition and uncertainty, in such an atmosphere it is no surprise if prolonged stress can lead to mental health disorders like depression and anxiety.

Why don’t depressed employees seek treatment for depression?

They do not do so because they are frightened if it will have any adverse effect on their profession and they are always worried about confidentiality ,they are also unaware of the insurance policy covering their costs or not for mental health problems, which often is the case as quite a number of insurance policies do not cover mental health or provide resources for it.

What are the risk factors of depression in the workplace?

A few of the risk factors for depression in the workplace are: unempathetic managers, unbalanced state of contribution-reward mechanism, high politics in the workplace, gossip , bullying in the workplace, more demands than you can meet, indecision, latitude and restrained social support.

Can you take a sick leave when you have depression?

Yes, it is alright to take a leave when you have depression as it will help you in managing your symptoms and feel better when you get back to work.

Can I get fired for having mental health issues?

No, you cannot get fired for mental health issues as it is illegal for an employer to fire the employees due to mental health conditions. 

Can I get fired for having anxiety?

According to the Americans with Disability Act, it is illegal for employers to discriminate amongst their employees based upon the grounds of mental health issues like anxiety and depression. 


What to Say when calling in sick with anxiety https://www.clubmentalhealthtalk.com/what-to-say-when-calling-in-sick-with-anxiety/

Depression: How to tell your boss you can’t work https://psychcentral.com/blog/depression/2014/06/depression-how-do-you-tell-your-boss-you-cant-work#1


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