Time Off for a Mental Break

July 13, 2017


It’s no mystery that mental health problems can be stigmatized, especially in the workplace. Employees are often allotted a certain amount of sick days per year and those are usually taken in the form of the flu or some other physical ailment. But what if your employee needs a small break, a couple days off to simply deal with an emotional issue in order to clear their head and get back to work? A mental health break. Because let’s face it, bad stuff happens and it can be hard to focus on the task at hand when it does.

Many employees have a hard time approaching their boss to ask for such time off over fears of a lack of understanding or sympathy. Mental health obviously isn’t as visible as someone who needs a box of kleenex and cough syrup, so it gets pushed to the backburner or one feels obligated to suck it up and get to work. However, a new Canadian study finds depression and anxiety were the most prevalent mental health conditions that affected employees in the workplace. It indicates that 46 percent of employees have taken time off work or noticed their colleagues take time away to tend to their mental health following workplace changes. Of course, our jobs aren’t the only things that cause stress in one’s life. What causes the stress is not really relevant. It could be dealing with the death of a pet or the breakdown of a relationship. The fact is, we often need that break.

This issue was recently brought forward by a social media post about a woman taking sick days to deal with an emotional issue. The post went viral mainly because of the overwhelmingly positive response from the woman’s boss.


Bottom line? Businesses and employees may want to consider how mentally healthy employees can better contribute to the overall health of the organization. This recent article in the Globe and Mail supports the notion that businesses need to recognize the value of mentally healthy employees and how stressors can negatively impact decision making.