About 55% of workers say they are afraid to take a mental health day, a new survey revealed.
More than half of American workers are afraid to take a day off to take care of their mental health, and that’s a moral and financial concern, according to one executive.
A survey conducted by Mental Health America and The Faas Foundation found that 55% of workers were afraid to take a day off to deal with mental health challenges.
Ryan Bonnici, chief marketing officer at the software company G2, says that’s bad news for everyone.
“Businesses have not only a moral but also a financial incentive to make the mental health of their employees a priority,” Bonnici wrote for Scientific American.
Prioritizing Mental Health
Bonnici goes out of his way to make mental health a priority among his employees. This started when Bonnici was honest with his direct-reports, telling them that he needed to reschedule a meeting because he was taking a mental health day.
“My experience shows that the biggest, most important step business leaders can take is to open up about our own mental health in an honest way,” Bonnici writes. “This is particularly true for those of us in the C-suite. (Corporate high-level positions) Ultimately, it’s the only way to make clear to our employees that they are safe to do the same.”
Since then, Bonnici has had multiple employees speak to him about their need to take a day off to tend to their mental health.
“Increasingly, my employees and people from outside my department have come to speak with me about what they’re going through. I also hear from people at other companies all the time wanting to discuss their struggles,” he writes.
The Benefits Of Mental Health Days
Allowing people time to tend to their mental health can increase employee productivity and reduce healthcare costs, so it makes good business sense, Bonnici argues.
“No one, at any business, should feel afraid to take a mental health day. And no one should ever be punished for doing so,” he writes.
Recently, Oregon lawmakers passed a measure that will allow students to take mental health days and get an excused absence.
“A big issue for students with mental health is when you have to miss a day because you’re going through depression or you have a therapy appointment,” Hailey Hardcastle, a student who pushed for the legislation, told NPR. “It’s really hard to make up tests and homework because teachers or the administration might not take it as seriously as a physical illness.”