Workplace Wellbeing: How Many Mental Health Days Are Too Many?
Workplace wellbeing is a hot topic right now. With stress, anxiety and depression being some of the leading causes of absenteeism, many employers are starting to ask themselves how many mental health days are too many?
Workplace Wellbeing: How Many Mental Health Days Are Too Many?
The answer, quite frankly, is that there is no such thing as taking too many days to better your wellbeing.
Employers are going to have to realise that they can also benefit from allowing employees to take time off. It’s becoming clear that businesses should be encouraging this type of behaviour rather than stigmatising it.
The risks of burnout and poor mental health in the workplace greatly outweigh the risks of a few days off. So why is it still so frowned upon?
There are many reasons relating to work that cause people to suffer from poor mental health. According to recent studies, the top reasons are:
Unclear job expectations
When you feel like you’re working your absolute hardest and getting only criticism or nothing at all back – it is definitely going to put you down. If you feel like you can’t please your boss or meet their expectations, it’s important to have a discussion about this before it crushes your confidence. Chances are, it’s not you – it’s them.
Lack of social support
Having someone to confide in or speak to about problems is crucial for healthy working relationships and a positive environment. If you’re not comfortable with anyone at work, try and build bridges outside of office hours or confide in friends and family that may have had a similar experience.
An unmanageable workload is one of the most common reasons for stress in the workplace and wondering how many mental health days is too many. If you’re constantly under pressure and struggling to complete tasks – it can quickly take over and affect your home life too.
Lack of control
This usually comes hand in hand with the workload. If you’re not given the opportunity to have a say in how you work or what tasks you complete, it can feel very monotonous and unchallenging. This can lead to boredom and feeling like your job has no purpose. Employers are at great risk of losing loyal employees for this reason.
If any of these resonate with you, it is important to start looking at your workplace and see what, if anything, can be done to change the situation. If not, it may be time to consider a new job.
When To Book A Day Off
Ideally, we want to be proactive about our mental health. This means not leaving it until a crisis hits before doing something about it, but sustaining a level that works for you.
Firstly, booking a day in advance will guarantee your workplace has someone to cover your role. For many people, the stress of coming back to missed deadlines can actually be the main reason for not taking time off in the first place.
Also, planning your time gives you a chance to organise things that make you happy – utilising this time off as best you can and ensuring it is the most beneficial for when you return.
However, we understand that bad days can also creep up unexpectedly. If you feel particularly overwhelmed, depressed or run down – don’t be afraid to stop and take a day to recover.
Just as your body needs to fight off illness, you need rest and proper time to reflect on your wellbeing in order to get back to where you were.
How Many Mental Health Days Is Too Many?
This question really baffles us.
Why? Because we fully understand that you can’t always control how you feel. Through no fault of your own, one week may be the worst week ever, even after a day of fun and laughter.
So just like you have no say over getting ill, taking time off for this is no different. It is important we remember to slow things down when our bodies tell us to.
Mental health should always come first. So if you’re finding that stress has taken over and no matter how much time you take to recover, it is never enough – it’s time to rethink.
Although, we are aware that statutory sick pay in the UK only offers a fraction of the average salary. It’s not enough to live on with a mortgage or rent to pay as well as yourself and perhaps a family to look after.
Due to this, more and more people are forcing themselves to ‘power on’ and simply repress their feelings until they get home – breaking down and failing to do even the most basic of self-care tasks.
This worry sits even more strongly with men who, for the most part, still sit as the main breadwinner in most families. The thought of losing out on even a day’s pay is enough to make them suffer in silence.
The reality is that taking a small amount of time away early on in your journey can prevent you from taking multiple days or even weeks and months off down the line.
Don’t let it reach a crisis, because that is the point where it becomes harder to dig your way out again.
Why Aren’t Companies Promoting This?
Before Covid hit us like a tonne of bricks, around 25% of people admitted to experiencing poor mental health. Today, we’re looking at that figure being more over the 50% mark.
We’re entering our second pandemic of this generation. And it’s not one that can be fixed with vaccines.
It goes without saying that employee wellness is critical to a business running at full productivity and achieving the results it desires. So the fact that people are still asking how many mental health days is too many shows that these statistics haven’t quite sunk in yet.
Promoting and encouraging time off for well-being comes with a host of benefits for the employer as well as the employee.
Healthier employees mean happier employees. Allowing people to take time off will lead them to become more resilient and capable of carrying out their roles to a high standard.
It will also enable them to improve their problem-solving skills and have a clearer head when coming to work each day. Reduced stress and worry result in increased productivity and engagement, in turn producing a better return for the business.
A More Positive Workplace Culture
When an organisation is open and proactive about looking after its staff, it immediately creates a better working environment.
This results in improved communication, greater collaboration and overall higher morale. We hope you’d agree when we say that it’s far more likely we’d do better and be more motivated in a place we feel accepted and listened to.
The main concern for most employers is absenteeism. It leads to deadlines being missed and losing skilled, loyal team members. However, encouraging mental health days will almost certainly result in less time being taken off long-term.
In fact, studies have shown that for every pound spent on workplace wellness programs, there is a return of £5 due to increased productivity and decreased absenteeism.
Having the ability to take time off without feeling guilty or stressed means that they can tackle issues before they need weeks or months to recover.
So How Many Mental Health Days Is Too Many?
There is no such thing.
Honestly, aside from your physical health, this will always be one of the most important things. Looking after your body in every way will allow you to enjoy every aspect of life as well as be able to work and live as your best self.
A few days here and there are going to be unnoticeable in the long run in terms of money or employment.
However, those couple of weeks a year could be the difference between life and death for many. They could be the reason you see the most change in yourself or your loved ones in a year’s time.
Remember, it’s an opportunity to be proactive rather than reacting to a crisis.