Today’s workplace is changing. The world is witnessing the rise of a new generation of working professionals who place just as much value on their mental health as physical health. It’s time for companies to acknowledge this and offer employees the resources they need to maintain healthy mindsets.
Mental Health Is as Important as Physical Health
While mental health is just as important as physical health, it often gets overlooked. And this has consequences for the workplace and economy.
According to a study published in The Lancet in 2021, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. The article states that mental disorders are among the leading causes of the global health-related burden, and that depression and anxiety are the most common types of mental disorders.
But despite this widespread prevalence and cost, mental health services remain underfunded and inaccessible in many countries worldwide. And workplace policies are rarely designed with employee well-being in mind — especially when it comes to sick leave benefits.
According to a 2020 study published by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, over one million workdays were lost in 2017 due to stress-related mental disorders, such as anxiety or acute depression. That’s roughly $3 billion that could have been used to create growth opportunities for businesses across all sectors of employees.
Employees May Use Vacation Days for Mental Health
You may wonder why a company would offer mental health days, especially when employees already take vacation time for mental health. The answer is simple. It’s in everyone’s best interest to have a culture that encourages people to care for themselves mentally.
Mental health days show support for the idea that it’s okay to not be okay, and that resources are available in the workplace if you need them. This can be especially helpful for those who struggle with mental illness or have family members dealing with depression or anxiety. Not only does this support employees who need help, but it also reminds everyone it’s okay to take a day off to focus on mental well-being.
Mental Health Stigma Is a Problem
Many employees feel uncomfortable talking about their mental health at work for fear of being stigmatized. Such reticense makes it more difficult for them to seek help. These fears also lead to people not taking advantage of the benefits offered by employers, including paid time off for mental health days or counseling sessions.
This lack of access to resources has negative consequences for individuals and society. The result is that people who need support do not get it, which means they may have difficulty performing at work or even face loss of employment altogether due to a lack of understanding from coworkers and managers.
Blue Collar Workers Are Less Likely to Take Mental Health Days
There are many reasons blue-collar workers take fewer mental health days, but most of them boil down to one thing: they feel like they don’t have the option to take a mental health day. Many workers in these positions are paid hourly and may not know how much money is left on their paycheck at the end of each week. There’s also something called “presenteeism,” which means you go to work despite being sick or exhausted because you’re afraid of losing your job if you call in sick.
If employees call in sick, they might not get paid for that day since their company doesn’t offer any kind of disability insurance. This means they could potentially lose almost half a month’s salary just because they felt too tired or stressed out from work.
Offering Mental Health Days Show Companies Care
The first reason is that mental health days can show employees that you care about them. By encouraging employees to take their mental health seriously, you show that you care about your employee as a person, not just an employee. This will make them feel valued and respected in the workplace, which is something that every employee wants from their boss.
Be aware of the problems your employees might face outside of work. One way to do this is to have regular one-on-one meetings with each employee, where they can share issues they are experiencing outside of work or at home, so you can offer support if necessary.
Offering Mental Health Days Benefits the Bottom Line
Improving your employee’s mental health is good for everyone.
The most obvious reasons for offering mental health days are their benefits for the bottom line. While the direct cost of employees using a mental health day is minimal, it adds up when you consider that an employee wouldn’t be able to do their job for at least half a day.
A better way to look at things is in terms of productivity and performance, which has more direct impact on your business’s profitability. When an employee has poor mental health, they will not be productive in their work and may even stop showing up altogether if they become too ill or depressed to function.
This can lead directly back to issues with excessive sick leave (and associated costs), especially if other employees need time off. Think of mental health days as a strategy for prevention and keeping employees healthy, happy, and functional.
The state of our mental health is a serious issue, and many people don’t take it seriously enough. By encouraging your employees to take their mental health seriously, you can help improve the health of your company by keeping your employees happy and mentally healthy.