Mental health days at work – Benefits and FAQs
Have you ever had one of those days when you just need a break for your sanity? Everything feels a little too much and you just need some time to clear your schedule and clear your mind? That’s essentially what a mental health day is all about.
In this article, we’ll explore the concept of mental health days, shed light on their purpose and why they’re being implemented by more and more organisations to make an impact on overall wellbeing.
What is a mental health day at work?
A mental health day at work is a day when an employee takes time off from their job to focus on their emotional wellbeing. On a mental health day, you step away from workplace pressure and responsibilities, with the aim to simply rest and recharge.
It’s a chance to prioritise self-care, spend time with loved ones, and address any mental or emotional challenges employees might be facing. Whether they’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, or simply need a breather – a mental health day can be a valuable tool for maintaining your overall wellbeing and is something more and more organisations are seeing the benefits of.
What’s the difference between a mental health day and a sick day?
The main difference between a mental health day and a sick day is that a sick day is taken due to physical illness or injury, while a mental health day is taken to address emotional and psychological wellbeing, typically to reduce stress or prevent burnout.
While a sick day is reactive to physical health issues, a mental health day is proactive, focusing on emotional health, self-care, and preventing mental health-related concerns. Both are essential for overall wellbeing, but they address different aspects of health.
The benefits of taking mental health days
Mental health days aren’t just a nice-to-have perk; they’re a proven and powerful way to maintain a healthy workplace. The importance of mental health days at work can be seen with several benefits.
- Reduce stress and burnout
We all know life can get overwhelming – in fact new data shows that 76% of UK professionals experience moderate to high levels of stress at work. And that’s where mental health days can often help; they offer employees a much-needed breather to de-stress and manage anxiety. Regular self-care goes a long way in maintaining mental resilience and preventing burnout.
- Support productivity
Taking a break can actually boost productivity. When employees return from a mental health day, they often feel more focused, energised, and ready to tackle their tasks. It’s like hitting the reset button on your brain.
- Long-term mental wellbeing
Mental health days aren’t just about a short-term fix. They can contribute to long-term mental wellbeing. By giving employees the opportunity to regularly recharge, it can help reduce symptoms of mental health concerns and contribute to overall improved mental wellbeing.
- Job satisfaction
Feeling supported at work boost job satisfaction. When employees know they can take a mental health day without guilt or fear of stigmatisation, it creates a positive and caring work environment.
- Stronger retention
Happy, well-supported employees are more likely to stay with a company. Mental health days signal to your workforce that you care about them as people and their holistic wellbeing, making your organisation an attractive place to work.
Are mental health days a legal requirement?
No. In the UK, mental health days as a specific legal requirement do not exist. However, the law does offer certain protections and requirements related to mental health in the workplace.
For example, the Equality Act 2010 requires employers to make reasonable adjustments for employees with mental health conditions to ensure they are not disadvantaged at work. Additionally, employees have the legal right to take sick leave if they are unwell, including due to mental health reasons.
While there’s no direct legal mandate for mental health days, UK employment law emphasises creating a supportive work environment and addressing mental health concerns within the broader framework of employee rights and wellbeing and employers should have policies in place that support those needs.
How to implement mental health days at your workplace
- Start with a written policy
Craft a clear mental health day policy in your employee handbook that outlines the purpose and values of your organisation. Be sure to communicate the new policy to all staff, ensure it is fair and equal, and outline the process for how to request a mental health day.
- Train team managers and leaders
Offer mental health training to team managers to equip them with the skills to recognise signs of mental health issues in their teams, and how to handle mental health day requests sensitively and supportively.
- Make wellbeing an approachable conversation
Encourage employees to openly discuss their mental health concerns and needs. Lead by example and show your workplace you actively fight against stigma. You can also promote regular check-ins between managers and employees to ensure their wellbeing is a top priority.
- Keep track of wellbeing metrics
Implement a system for tracking and measuring the impact of mental health days on employee wellbeing (we recommend using pulse surveys). Metrics such as absenteeism rates, satisfaction, and productivity will help you assess the effectiveness of your mental health support efforts.
How to measure the impact of mental health day policies
There are a number of ways you could track the efforts of your mental health initiatives at work. By using Stribe’s smart pulse survey software, it’ll make things a whole lot easier. We’ve broken it down into steps and tips for you…
- Pre-Survey assessment
Before implementing mental health days, conduct a baseline survey to gauge employees’ mental health perceptions and wellbeing. Ask questions related to stress levels, work-life balance, and their understanding of mental health resources available.
- Post-Mental health day surveys
After employees have had the opportunity to take mental health days, conduct follow-up surveys. Gather feedback on their experience, including whether they found the days helpful, if they felt supported, and if it positively affected their mental wellbeing.
- Frequency and timing
For the most accurate tracking trends and changes over time, use pulse surveys at regular intervals, such as quarterly or semi-annually, to assess the longer-term impact of mental health day policies.
- Targeted questions
Craft questions that target the effectiveness of mental health days. For example:
- “Do you feel that your manager supported your mental health day request adequately?”
- “Did taking a mental health day help you alleviate stress and recharge?”
- “Have you noticed any improvements in your overall mental wellbeing since the implementation of mental health days?
- Comparative analysis
Compare survey results over time to identify trends or changes in employee wellbeing and mental health perceptions. Look for any correlations between mental health day usage and improvements in your key wellbeing metrics.
- Feedback loop and adjustments
As we always say, acting on employee feedback is the most important step. Act on the survey feedback by adjusting the mental health day policy or support resources if needed. Communicate changes transparently to show employees that their feedback is valued and acted upon.
- Celebrate successes
Be open about sharing positive survey outcomes and success stories with employees to highlight the benefits of mental health days! This will help to build a culture of trust and candidness and break down the stigmas of mental health
Want to create a workplace that prioritises employee health and happiness? Speak to the friendly Stribe team to learn how we can help.