Is Admitting You Need a Mental Health Day to Your Boss Going to Hold You Back?

Health and wellness are increasingly important for many organizations and people. They impact our lives and help us enjoy life. And what’s included in health and wellness benefits are expanding. Not only is physical health emphasized but having good mental health is just as important. Our mental health impacts creativity and productivity in every environment including the workplace. Multiple studies show the increasing importance of mental health for the average person. For example, 23% of adults in the UK treated their mental health problems in 2000 as opposed to 37% in 2014. 19% of U.S. adults received treatment for their mental health in 2019. Stigma around mental health is steadily changing. So, how do you know if your boss is on the same page?

It depends on your company. Some are more accepting of mental health trends. Outside of care for employees’ well-being, there is also a pragmatic component to companies being accepting of mental health as part of physical health. In 2003, The United States spent $100 million in national health costs. $100 million sounds like an astronomical number until you learn depression cost employers an astounding $17 – $44 billion. The financial costs of depression and anxiety are helping aid normalization of mental health efforts around the world.

Workplaces are becoming increasingly accepting of mental health days. However, how comfortable you are sharing that you need a break or are suffering from mental health issues, can really depend on your manager.

However, before you give up on talking to your boss about your mental health, know that your mind can get sick like your physical body does. Where mental health days help most is treating them like colds. Maybe you’re not diagnosed with anything. But the point of mental health days is to stop you from getting there. Psychological problems such as exhaustion or anxiety need treatment in similar fashion to a cold. If you had a cold, you would rest to stop yourself from getting bronchitis. So, if you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed from your workload or have a diagnosed condition, it’s time to have a discussion with your boss about taking some time off, prioritizing tasks, or getting some additional help with your workload, before you feel worse.

The Guardian shares some helpful stories to keep in mind for when you speak to your boss about mental health support. For instance, Chloe began performing poorly at work and her boss, who didn’t know she was struggling mentally, put pressure on her to perform. After unsuccessfully trying to push through her mental health trouble, she told her boss. Instead of being ignored or pushed aside, she received support by sharing her workload and taking afternoon breaks. Communicating with your boss can save yourself a lot of stress and provide an extra layer of support in your life.

Treat your mental health seriously. Even if you’re nervous about the outcome, it’s important to begin forging the trust and relationships necessary to begin mental health talks with your employer. Think of it this way, if you decided to go on a run, eventually you would hit your limit and you would either decide to stop or your body would eventually force you to. Similarly, you can ignore your mental health and keep pushing but eventually your health will catch up to you. Be clear and professional about your request to your manager, who is a person too, they will want to help, and if they do not, that is unfortunate and it may be time to find a new job.

This article was written by Kullen Williams.
Kullen Williams is a writer and thinker based in Nashville, TN. He researches trends in ideas and culture and loves to share that knowledge with others.

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