The mental health day used to be known as playing hooky from work, but more employees are realizing that at times it is necessary to take a day and recalibrate. Think of it as stepping off the gas pedal as your car’s RPMs threaten to overheat and blow the engine.
Still, how does one decide when it’s time to take that day and when to simply power through?
Amy Morin is a psychotherapist and author of the international bestselling book, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do. On Forbes’ website, she helps employees navigate this new area.
She suggests treating mental health like physical health. For instance, if you caught a cold, you might decide to tough it out at work. But if you had the flu, it’s best to stay home for not only are you incapable of doing your job you may infect your co-workers.
And trust me, crazy is just as infectious as H2N2 virus.
“As a psychotherapist, I’ve helped many people determine whether they were mentally healthy enough to do their job,” Morin writes. “And much of it depends on the mental health issue you’re grappling with and what kind of work you do.”
For instance, if you drive a bus and are having trouble concentrating because of depression that is a bit more concerning than driving your laptop in your cubicle.
So here are Morin’s suggestions:
- When you’re distracted by something you need to address. If you’re behind on your bills and taking a day off to tackle your budget could help you feel as though you’re back in control, it may make sense to take a day to address it so you can reduce your anxiety.
- When you’ve been neglecting yourself. Just like electronic devices need recharging, it’s important to take the time to charge your own batteries. A little alone time or an opportunity to practice some self-care can help you perform better.
- When you need to attend appointments to care for your mental health. Whether you need to see your doctor get your medication adjusted or you need to schedule an appointment with your therapist, taking a day off to address your mental health needs is instrumental in helping you be at your best.
Morin notes that only 17 percent of the U.S. population is functioning at optimal mental health., according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
Employers would be wise to pay attention to this awful statistic. The Center for Prevention and Health estimates mental illness and substance abuse issues cost employers up to $105 billion annually.
Giving a worker a mental health day now and then actually can save money.
Read all of Morin’s piece on Forbes by clicking here.