Dear Dr Jennifer: 'My workplace is toxic, but I'm afraid of handing in a sick note that hints of mental illness'
My GP thinks I need to take time off from work for stress. I've had depression on and off for some time and it is exacerbated by the toxic atmosphere I endure in the office, but I am so terrified about handing in a sick note with any hint of a mental condition on it. What's been your experience of stress leave notes?
A My experience has been that the need for stress leave certification is increasingly common. Some people regularly take stress leave and others deny ever feeling stress despite juggling so many balls. I believe if your doctor feels a stress leave work note is needed, you should probably go ahead and take the advice. Perhaps you will feel much better after just one week.
I think you are wrong in saying that stress leave implies a 'hint of mental illness' as we all experience stress in our everyday life, no matter what we do, and I certainly don't equate stress leave with mental illness. Besides, even if your doctor put depression on your sick note, I would encourage you to be open and honest with your employer and work colleagues as this will lead to empathy and compassion and might even help in your recovery.
It is the sense of fear that is holding you back. I think you need to learn to let go and do what is best for you.
Your doctor can encourage you, but ultimately you need to take action by addressing head on whatever it is that is increasing your stress levels.