When should you take a mental health day off from work?

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.

Psychotherapist Amy Morin says workers need to treat their mental health just like they do their physical health.

“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.

GOP Health Bill Could Undermine Coverage Under Employer Plans

Under the GOP’s repeal of Obamacare, the most wealthy get a tax break, while the poor will have benefits rolled back under the Medicaid program, according to an analysis by the New York Times.

But what about those who get their health insurance through their employer? Not our problem, right? Think again.

The Wall Street Journal reports that many people who obtain health insurance through their employers could be at risk of losing protections that limit out-of-pocket costs of catastrophic illness. That’s about half of the country, folks.

“It’s huge,” Andy Slavitt, former acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Barack Obama told the Wall Street Journal. “They’re creating a back door way to gut employer plans, too.”

Hardly noticed among the debate over pre-existing conditions, this change came in a last-minute amendment to the House Republican health-care bill that passed by four votes.

The House bill would allow large employers to choose the benefit requirements from any state including those that are allowed to lower their benchmarks under a new waiver, The Wall Street Journal reported.

By choosing a waiver state, employers looking to lower their costs could impose lifetime limits and eliminate the out-of-pocket cost cap from their plans under the GOP legislation.

 

Health care analysts say the real question is, would employers do this?

“Many wouldn’t,” said Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “Many employers offer quality benefits to attract employees. But employers are always looking for ways to lower costs.”

Fifty-nine percent of covered employees who were in an employer plan had a lifetime limit on how much their insurance plans would cover before the ACA, Mr. Levitt said.

To read all of the Wall Street Journal story click here.

 

FAU Study finds lack of U.S. sick leave leads to illness, health care costs

It’s a classic case of cutting your nose off despite your face.

Employers who don’t offer their workers sick leave actually make us all sicker, according to a new study by Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. Not only do workers who get ill end up coming to work and spreading diseases like the flu, the time they would take for preventative measures – such as a yearly physical – is not there.

The Affordable Care Act tried to remedy this by allowing the 20 million Americans now with insurance to get free preventative screenings. Yet, many do not utilize these lifesaving screening because they don’t have sick time to take to go to the doctor.

As a result, they are contributing to the nation’s soaring health care costs, which reached $3 trillion in 2014.

General illustration to go with Doctors project content. Illustration by Richard Watkins

Researchers at FAU and Cleveland State University in their study in Preventative Medicine, illustrate the role of paid sick leave and how it contributes to overall public health.

Compared to 22 similarly developed countries, the United States is the only country that does not mandate employers to provide paid sick leave benefits or include paid sick leave in a universal social insurance plan.

“Our findings demonstrate that even when insured adults are provided with free preventive screenings, paid sick leave is a significant factor associated with actually using the screenings,” said LeaAnne DeRigne, Ph.D., lead author and an associate professor in the School of Social Work within FAU’s College for Design and Social Inquiry.

“American workers risk foregoing preventive health care, which could lead to the need for medical care at later stages of disease progression and at a higher cost for workers and the American health care system as a whole.”

Key findings from the study reveal that American workers without paid sick leave had odds that were:

  • 30 percent less likely to have had a blood pressure check in the last 12 months
  • 40 percent less likely to have had a cholesterol check in the last 12 months
  • 24 percent less likely to have had a fasting blood sugar check in the last 12 months
  • 61 percent less likely to have had a flu shot in the last 12 months
  • 19 percent less likely to have seen or talked to a physician or health care provider in the last 12 months
  • 23 percent less likely to have had a Pap test in the last 12 months