Mental health days in the workplace

It’s no secret that most of us will suffer from poor mental health at some point or another in our lives. Yet the subject of mental health still goes unspoken, particularly here in the UK.

With businesses across the pond in America taking more and more notice of the implications of employee wellbeing and mental health in the workplace, we take a look at the concept of a mental health day and how we can reduce the stigma surrounding mental health in UK workplaces.

The mental health taboo

The concept of a mental health day is far from commonplace in the UK but it’s something that organisations might want to consider implementing in order to support employees. With that being said, businesses do need to consider how they would manage such a process as well as how it would be written into company policy.

Mental health issues are still not discussed as openly as physical illness. For example, most of us wouldn’t even hesitate to talk to a line manager about taking time off if we had the flu or any other physical health condition, but opening up about poor mental health is something that we’re more reluctant to do. It can be very daunting to admit when we’re struggling and that things are getting on top of us, but we need to remove that stigma.

The concept of a mental health day can help to shift this as it gives businesses the chance to let their employees know that they understand that everyday work stresses and deadlines can be a huge trigger to poor mental health. It evokes a sense of understanding and opens up a support system which will break down barriers when it comes to communication.

What is a mental health day?

In the US, more and more companies are offering their employees something called a mental health day.

The concept allows employees to take a day off work for reasons other than a physical illness.

While it's common for employees to take a day off for ordinary sickness because they physically cannot function, the idea of a mental health day shows an acceptance that sometimes, we simply need a break for the sake of our emotional wellbeing.

The link between mental health and physical health is a given and this clearly has an implication on managing employee absence.

A mental health day allows employees to take a day to rest and do something positive for their emotional wellbeing. But more than that, it gives them the chance and incentive to speak to somebody when they are struggling and opens a dialogue between employer and employee.

The rationale behind the mental health day is that it can prevent stress levels from escalating and reaching a breaking point.

It’s not about avoiding day to day responsibilities, it’s about being proactive and making smart choices that can minimise the risk of a physical illness arising.

In the long-term, this can even help to minimise unauthorised absences and presenteeism, whilst also paving the way for better employee well-being and a stronger work community.

If you'd like to discuss how you can incorporate mental health days into your occupational health strategy, give us a call.

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Categories: Absence ManagementEmployeesHealth & WellbeingHealth SurveillanceMental HealthOccupational Health

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