Many businesses are recognizing the importance of supporting their employees’ mental health and are starting to encourage or offer mental health days off. A mental health day off is a day off taken by an employee to have a break, reduce stress, and prevent burnout. It is different from a vacation since it’s usually a single day. Employees can use this day to relax, enjoy hobbies, or catch up on errands or doctor appointments.
Stress, especially in the workplace, is an epidemic, and an estimated three out of five people say their job negatively impacts their mental health and overall wellbeing. While a mental health day off won’t solve a severe problem in the workplace, it can help.
Benefits of a Mental Health Day Off for Employees
Here are some of the many benefits of a mental health day off for employees.
- Reduces stress levels and risk of burnout.
- Gives the opportunity to recharge.
- Creates a new perspective on work.
- Lessens employee anxiety.
- Can create better job satisfaction.
- Creates a culture where employee mental health is valued.
Benefits of a Mental Health Day Off for Businesses
Employees aren’t the only ones to benefit from mental health days off. Mental health days and a workplace that supports mental health greatly benefit a business in many tangible ways, including fiscally. Here are some of the benefits of mental health days off for a business.
- An increase in productivity.
- An increase in morale.
- Greater loyalty from employees.
- Higher employee retention.
- Greater ability to attract new talent.
- Better teamwork and camaraderie between employees.
- Reduced mental healthcare costs.
How to Start a Mental Health Day Off Program
However a business decides to approach mental health days off, it’s imperative that the messaging from leadership is supportive and explicitly says that it is ok to take time off for mental health. Here are several ways a business can approach a mental health days off program.
- A simple way to approach mental health days off is to simply permit and encourage employees to use their sick days for mental health as needed. This requires changes primarily to workplace culture, e.g., that it’s ok to prioritize mental health by taking a break. However, the downside to this approach is that some employees might be reluctant to give up a sick day for mental health.
- Another approach that also requires minimal changes is to require employees to use all of their vacation time each year. This automatically builds in mental health, restoring time off and creating a culture where it’s ok to take a break. However, this approach will require some managerial adjustments to plan appropriately for extra vacation time so that employees won’t come back to work already behind.
- One highly effective approach to mental health days is for a company to take multiple nonholiday days off each year. This is one of the most effective ways to support employee mental health because it removes the hurdle of needing to ask for a day off. Many people feel internal shame and judgment about needing to take a break, making it hard to utilize mental health days if they’re offered. This method gives every employee a well-needed break.
- Businesses can also add days off that employees can use specifically for mental health and burnout prevention. While this is more costly for a business, on the one hand, on the other, it will clearly show employees that management is serious about prioritizing mental health. And it increases the benefits of mental health days off, such as increased employee retention and the ability to attract new talent. This approach will also require managerial adjustment.
Whatever your approach, empower your managers to authorize mental health days and provide them with basic policy guidance to ensure an even application of the new policy for mental health days.
Mental Health in the Workplace and BioFunctional Health Solutions (BHS)
Here at BHS, we are experts in workplace health and wellness. Our wellness programs can be customized to support employee mental health in businesses, large and small. With over a decade of experience, we have the expertise to customize a mental health wellness plan that includes employee education, support for management, and mental health days off. When employees and management are both educated about mental health, its risk factors, and the value of mental health days, it will make a mental health day policy easy to access and more productive. To partner with BHS or receive more information, please get in touch with us today!