Why Don’t More Company Cultures Support “Mental Health Days”?

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Madalyn Parker was only being honest when she informed her team she needed to take time off work to focus on her mental health. Her boss’s response should set an example for corporations everywhere.

Parker’s employer – and the internet – praised her for taking the necessary time off work to deal with her mental health. Only one question remains: why don’t more companies, their employees, and their leadership, treat the concept of mental health days with the same honesty and gratitude?

It’s not for a lack of necessity. In 2016, the American Psychological Association published their annual Work and Well-Being Survey. Results suggested that less than half of working Americans say their company cultures support the well-being of workplace employees.

So is stigma the culprit? Possibly. Plenty of people hesitate or refuse to seek help for addiction and other mental health issues because they’re afraid of being judged. Some worry that if they take time off, they’ll lose their jobs. Employers might worry that allowing employees to tae time off for mental health reasons leads to productivity loss – even though coming to work in poor mental health usually results in poor performance anyway.

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It’s up to both employees and their employers to trample these stigmas by treating “mental health days” as normal workplace policy – and remembering that it’s not just OK, but beneficial, to take a day or two away from the office to engage in self-care.

If you’re in a position that puts you in charge of company employees, keep in mind that their mental health can have a direct impact on their productivity – and the success of the business they’re working for. Why does mental health matter? Because poor mental health means poor workplace performance. And poor performance means bad news for profits. If taking a sick day or two means an employee comes back refreshed and ready to work, that should be enough to convince you to say, “OK.”

What can employees do to promote positive attitudes about mental health in the workplace? Following Parker’s example is a good start: just be honest. Don’t feel like you have to hide or make excuses. If you have to tell your boss about your mental health concerns, use the opportunity to engage in an honest and open discussion.

Technically, what you do with your sick days is completely up to you. But it can’t hurt to let your employer know you’re using them wisely – for both their benefit and yours.


Did you know an addiction can be caused by a mental disorder?

One of the primary reasons that mental disorders and substance abuse so often go hand-in-hand is that drugs and alcohol can provide an escape from the pressures of mental health problems. Self-medicating is surprisingly common: you’re not alone.

But unlike real, effective, long-term solutions, such as medication and detoxification in a treatment center, drugs and alcohol won’t amount to effective treatment.

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