Workplaces should offer time off for mental wellness

Mental health is just as important as physical health for productivity

(Kristen Frier)

(Kristen Frier)

The idea of offering time off for mental health days has been a rising topic in the workplace for some time now. 

A Mexican restaurant in Kamloops, British Columbia, brought this into action when they decided to close their doors for a week to give staff some much-needed time off to tend to their mental health with paid vacation time. 

Rob Stodola, the restaurant owner, mentioned how it was much-needed after many of his staff reported burnout. It is not surprising considering the impacts the pandemic has had on everyone.

Now more than ever, mental wellness is crucial to move through society, and it is important to remember that many social and occupational environments have helped improve this. With companies beginning to offer therapy and mediation services as part of their benefits packages, adding mental health days seems like another great idea. 

Mental well-being refers to an individual’s mental state and how they are feeling regarding how well they can cope through daily life.

Promoting this wellness is important for employees, employers, society, and the economy. Many believe that physical health is the only factor that impacts how a workplace runs. Still, when someone’s mental health deteriorates, it can greatly affect their productivity and relationship with others. 

Mental health is something that many people overlook, whether that be because of neglect, denial, or shame. We should never be ashamed to say you need to find ways to take some time for self-care, and supporting time off for mental wellness could work to reduce that stigma further. Employers have a key role in supporting their employees’ health and should give recognition for the importance of these mental health days. 

Stodola and his restaurant are a great example for businesses to see how mental health days could be put into place. Now, this is a family-owned business, so the decision came easier than it would be for a bigger brand or franchise company. However, this seems like a much-needed break for employees, and their health should be the top priority. 

In 2019, Forbes published an article by mental health researcher Bernie Wong, where he noted the reality that employees across various demographics, occupations, and seniority levels have always taken mental health days, yet this has been disguised by excuses of having an upset stomach or headache. 

“In fact, 95% of employees who have taken time off due to stress named another reason … with less than 30% of employees [feeling] comfortable talking to their managers about their mental health,” wrote Wong.

This is a concerning number, and with the rising popularity of mental health being a topic of conversation, it might be the start of encouraging companies to provide a structure for those necessary mental health days.

Because if we are all being honest, sometimes everyone needs those kinds of days.