Guest Article from Fusion Occupational Health

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experiences mental illness in a given year.

However, only 40 percent of those adults received treatment.

Thankfully, more importance is being placed on mental health issues in the workplace with businesses focusing on the wellbeing of their staff.

We’ve asked Fusion Occupational Health to tell us about one strategy that businesses are employing to improve and maintain the mental health and wellbeing of their employees–the Mental Health Day.

An open and honest mental health culture

Mental health issues are still not discussed as openly as they could or should be.

If you had flu, you’d probably speak to a manager about taking time off. But it’s just as important to consider your mental health needs.

Thankfully, organizations’ attitudes towards employee health & wellbeing are evolving, with an emphasis on improving the awareness of mental health issues.

By encouraging and creating open cultures to mental health, businesses can provide a solid support network for staff who may be struggling.

One of the ways that businesses are starting to do this is by offering their employees Mental Health Days.

What is a Mental Health Day?

In the same way that you would take time off for a physical illness, Mental Health Days are solely dedicated to giving your psychological and emotional health some TLC.

This not only creates a culture where people suffering from depression and anxiety don’t have to worry about calling in “sick” but also shows that managers recognize the importance of recovery time.

Talking to Women’s Health Magazine, Shannon Byrne, Ph.D., clinical psychologist at Duke University Health System said, “Taking a mental health day can improve energy, motivation, mood, and one’s ability to manage stress, and time off might actually increase overall productivity rather than decrease it.”

A strong work community with open dialogue

By opening a dialogue between employer and employee, Mental Health Days tell staff that their needs are being recognized, creating a stronger work community.

They also give people the chance to speak to somebody when they are struggling.

One example from 2017 brought the concept some welcome publicity.

When a web developer emailed her colleagues to let them know that she was taking some time off to tend to her mental health, the response from her boss went viral.

We’ll leave you with a quote from a follow-up blog that her boss posted on Medium. We think it sums up why Mental Health Days should be offered by more businesses across America and the rest of the world:

“We are in a knowledge economy. Our jobs require us to execute at peak mental performance. When an athlete is injured they sit on the bench and recover. Let’s get rid of the idea that somehow the brain is different.”