Three hidden benefits of mental health days

by Brendan McDonald

Photo for article on benefits of mental health days. Illustration of a black figure seated forlornly on a pink chair on a bright yellow background.
Caption:

Mental health days are a simple intervention that allows employees to take time off in a controlled, planned, agreed-upon way, before they burn out completely, and end up having to take unplanned sick days instead or worse.

Credit:

©AnthonyJess / Adobe Stock

Ten years ago most workers had never even heard of “mental health days.” There were sick days, sure, but the concept of taking an emergency day off to recover before your physical health suffered was an alien one. Back then, the awkward conversation about mental health and stress was one that nobody wanted to have at work. Fortunately, nowadays, that’s changing, albeit slowly as employers and employees recognize the benefits of mental health days.



An increasing number of workplaces are allowing, and even encouraging, their employees to look after their mental health by taking days off when necessary. But not every boss is completely sold on the benefits of mental health days.

Image for article on benefits of mental health days. Brightly colored illustration of a person with their hands held to their head in extreme exhaustion.
Credit:

©AnthonyJess / Adobe Stock

If you need to convince your boss of the benefits of mental health days, here are three compelling arguments that you can make:

Mental health days prevent sick days

According to the American Psychological Association, stress-related illness costs U.S. businesses up to $300 billion per year in health care and lost work. Another study estimates that the total cost of work-related depression alone in the EU is nearly €620 billion per year. Add the fact that 77 percent of people in the U.S. regularly suffer physical symptoms due to stress, and it’s evident that the problem is a huge one. Research also confirms there are elevated risks of depression amongst employees experiencing work-related stress.

Mental health days are a simple intervention that allows employees to take time off in a controlled, planned, agreed-upon way, before they burn out completely, and end up having to take unplanned sick days instead or worse.



Mental health days result in increased overall productivity

It has been shown over and over again taking breaks and ensuring that you’re well rested increases overall productivity. This might seem counterintuitive, but an employee who’s struggling with their mental health or buckling under the weight of stress isn’t likely to be a productive one. The phenomenon of presenteeism – poor performance due to being unwell while at work – is well documented. Give that same employee some time off to rest, recover and self-care, and they’ll be much more likely to be on point when they return to the workplace.

Not only are improved levels of psychological and physical well-being associated with increased productivity, but they can also help enhance employee-employer dialogue, staff retention, and encourage higher levels of innovation, which is vital to the success of many organizations.

Image for article on benefits of mental health days. Brightly colored illustration of several people - all colored in purple - in a room, some seated some standing, some eating. A lone figure in pink looks weary and alone.
Credit:

©AnthonyJess

Benefits of mental health days include happier employees

A rarely mentioned – but still equally valuable – reason for bosses to let employees take a small number of mental health days at their discretion is that it shows that they are trusted. By empowering employees to take care of their mental health, and proactively manage their stress levels, supervisors demonstrate they respect their workers, trust them to understand their own needs, and are willing to give them independence and control. The result? Employees who are happier, more productive and more engaged in the work that they do.

Want more stories like this? Subscribe!


Become a Patron!



Selected Sources
Jeff Fermin, 11 Scary Statistics About Stress At Work
Phyllis Korkki, To Stay on Schedule, Take a Break
Marshall Goldsmith, Empowering Your Employees to Empower Themselves
Stavroula Leka and Aditya Jain, Mental Health in the Workplace in Europe

 

 


Article by Brendan McDonald

Hi, I'm so glad you're here. I started UR with my wife and sister after a Leukemia diagnosis. All of a sudden, I began having some pretty awkward conversations with colleagues and friends. The truth is, most people don’t know what to say.

Discussion

Discussion

Click here to read our Comment Policy