9th Jan

Mental Health Days

With the increasing pressure of everyday life, why are more employers not allowing staff to take mental health days in lieu of sick days?

Mental health issues are one of the most common forms of illness in Australia with 3 million of us currently living with anxiety or depression alone.

The benefits to pre-planning a mental health day or being upfront about the need to take a mental health day allows businesses’ to be better prepared for unplanned absences and allows staff to be able to take time to deal with their mental health. This in turn reduces overall workplace absence as well as reduces workers compensation psychological claims.

With anxiety and depression on the rise and suicide taking 2,795 lives in 2016 as reported by Mindframe, the need for mental health days is imperative.

Employers often focus on the more obvious risk factors surrounding physical claims but do not focus on the less obvious psychological risks that can lead to long term mental health conditions and loss of productivity in the workplace.

A Safework Australia report showed that psychological workers compensation claims are on the rise and are one of the most significant financial problems in the Australian workplace.

Employers need to learn to better recognise the changes in a person that may indicate some psychological stress and the need for a mental health day.

Factors may include; poor productivity, low mood, making increased mistakes, tearfulness, less social engagement, withdrawal from the team, unexplained absences, emotional outbursts and exhibiting behavior that is unusual for them.

Simply asking the question “Are you ok?” can open up discussions about a person’s well-being. Suggesting the availability of EAP (Employee Assistance Programs) or offering time to take a mental health day in lieu of a sick day can have a significant effect on someone’s overall well-being at work.

A study by Finder.com.au estimates that 3.47 million Australians used at least one days sick leave days for mental health reasons in the past 12 months.

Is it not better to be upfront and encourage staff to take a mental health day if needed? Some employers offer compulsory mental health days undertake pleasurable activities in lieu of sick days. This attitude can increase overall workplace satisfaction and in turn commitment to the company and increase productivity.

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Sydney NSW 2001
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