You’ve been feeling stressed, anxious, and exhausted from work – or maybe you have a mental illness diagnosis that you have been struggling with lately. Having just finished a big project, and with no important meetings on the horizon, you’ve decided to take a mental health day. And good on you for doing so! But as your day of mental health focus and recharging winds down you think “what now?”. You know this reprise won’t last long. Tomorrow is a new work day, and you wonder how long you will last before you need another mental health day. This is why mental health days are not enough.
REACTIONARY AND SHORT LIVED
Yes – mental health days are necessary and should be offered to all employees, but they shouldn’t be a replacement for mental health support. A mental health day is intended to help an employee recover from stress, exhaustion, lack of focus, and more; but is one day really going to resolve all these symptoms? Employees need consistent support to help stay mentally healthy. Companies should dig deeper and find out how they can help their employees before they need mental health days.
SUPPORTING MENTAL HEALTH AT WORK
A great way to support employees is by open communication from leadership. Leaders need to clearly express their support of workplace mental health. Less than 50% of employees feel comfortable talking about their mental health with their employer. Actually, 95% of employees who have taken time off due to stress at work stated a separate reason such as a headache or stomachache. In order to properly support employees, companies need to have mental health ingrained in their organizational culture.
MENTAL HEALTH CULTURE
A mentally healthy workplace is achieved through creating a mental health positive culture. Mental health education for employees, as well as training for company leaders and managers are great strategies to start with.
Good employers recognize the need for mental health days. Great employers know their job isn’t done simply because they allowed a struggling employee a day off. While mental health days allow employees to emotionally or cognitively recuperate, it’s a reactionary step. Forward thinking companies should search for preventative measures to help employees maintain good mental health.