Want to know what to say when calling in sick with depression?
This is something a lot of people, myself included, have struggled with – and it only makes the anxiety worse.
I know how you feel. You don’t want to have to explain exactly how you’re feeling, have your mental health discussed around the workplace, and deal with the stigma that still exists.
In this article, hopefully, I’m going to help by giving you some examples of what you can say when calling in sick with depression!
What to Say When Calling in Sick With Depression
If you’re battling with depression right now and you have to tell your boss you can’t come into work, I know how stressful and awkward this can be.
I’ve had to do it myself over the years, many times.
Much of the anxiety depends on what your boss is like, the kind of relationship you have with them, and how he’s going to handle the information.
If you’re lucky enough to have a boss who understands you and knows a bit about your situation, hopefully, you just have to let him know you need some time and he’ll respect that.
However, if you’ve been dealing with your depression yourself and you know it’s going to come as a complete surprise to your boss, it can be difficult to know what to say.
What to Say to Your Boss if You Think He’ll Understand
If you think your boss will be reasonable and understanding, these are some examples of what you can say:
- “Hi, I’m sorry but I’m not feeling mentally up to coming in right now, I need to stay home.”
- “Hi, I’m really sorry for the short notice but I won’t be able to come in today. I need to sort some things out, I’ll get back to you shortly with an update.”
- “Hi, I’m really struggling to get my head in the right frame of mind right now. I need some time off, I hope you understand and I’ll call you again soon.”
- “I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed right now, I hope you don’t mind if I work from home today and I’ll update you later on how I’m feeling.”
- “Hi, my Dr has advised me to take some time off to recharge. I hope you understand, I’ll be in a better position to tell you more in a few days.”
If your boss is understanding, you don’t have to use the word ‘depression’ unless they push you for a more specific reason.
You could also say that you’ll email them more details. Which, again, a sensitive boss will respect that and appreciate that you might not want to talk on the phone.
What to Say to Your Boss if He Has No Idea You’re Depressed
This is where it gets tough, and I feel for you.
If your boss is insensitive, difficult to deal with, poor at communicating, or someone who generally frowns at staff taking sick days – it’s not an easy call.
Some of the things you could say to get your point across and hopefully stop him in his tracks from making the call any more awkward are:
- “I’m really sorry, I know this is short notice but I won’t be able to come in today. My depression is getting the better of me right now, I’ll be in touch.”
- “I’m dealing with some personal issues right now, so I’m calling to let you know that I’m not able to come in today. I’ll call tomorrow or drop you an email with an update.”
- “I can appreciate this will come as a surprise, but I’m dealing with some emotional issues right now. I won’t be able to come in for a while, I’ll provide you with more details as soon as I can.”
- “I’m sorry to drop this one you and I will just come out and say it, I’m dealing with depression at the moment. I know I’m not able to perform at my best so I’m going to need to take a break.”
Remember – Always Follow the Correct Company Procedures
Once you’ve made the call, it’s important that you follow your company’s procedures for taking sick days.
This usually means letting them know in writing (usually an email) as soon as possible, or if you’re going to be off for more than a couple of days – getting a fit note from your doctor.
It’s hard to say how your company is going to react to you being off with depression, especially if you’re going to be off for a while.
Most companies are very sensitive to mental health issues in this day and age.
It’s been well-publicized that depression among the workforce is on the rise, and it’s costing employers more to ignore the issue – both financially and morally – than it is to support their employees.
As long as you’re following the correct company procedures in terms of how to call in and the communication you need to provide with your company – you should get all the necessary support you need.
Is Depression a Reason to Miss Work?
If you feel like your depression is starting to interfere with your work, it might be time to have a conversation with your boss.
There are also emotional and physical issues that accompany being depressed, which can make even the simplest tasks, such as getting out of bed, a challenge.
It can be difficult to know what to say, but it’s important to be honest about how you’re feeling.
Your boss may not be aware of how much your depression is affecting you, and they may be able to offer accommodations or support.
It’s also possible that your boss has dealt with depression themselves, and can offer advice from their own experience.
Of course, you don’t have to tell your boss if you don’t feel comfortable doing so.
However, you should seek the help of a doctor or mental health professional to start your recovery.
They will be best placed to advise you on whether or not you should be taking a break from your job, as well as if it’s best to tell your boss or company at this stage.
Do Coworkers Have to Know You’ve Been Off With Depression?
For most, depression is a personal issue and coworkers knowing about it only makes them feel worse.
It’s not law and there is no company policy that states coworkers have to know when someone is depressed, so you can request it’s kept private when you tell your boss.
Is There a Stigma About Depression in the Workplace?
Depression in the workplace is still somewhat of a taboo topic, but it’s slowly becoming more and more accepted.
This is mainly due to the rise in mental health awareness over recent years, which has resulted in employers taking it more seriously.
However, there are still some workplaces where depression is seen as a weakness or character flaw, and so it’s not something that’s openly talked about.
If you feel like this is the case in your workplace, it might be best to speak to a trusted coworker or your boss in confidence to get their opinion on how open people are about mental health issues.
You could also look into whether your company has an employee assistance program (EAP), which is designed to help employees with personal issues that might be affecting their work.
If you’re dealing with depression, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone – no matter how it’s affecting your role at work.
The important thing is that you recognize how serious your depression is, and start taking steps to get the help you need.
There are various ways you can call in and tell your boss why you need time off.
As long as you follow company procedures and keep them informed, you shouldn’t let it bother you how your boss or your company reacts – you need to put yourself first.
Image credits – Photo by Krists Luhaers on Unsplash
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.