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The Growing Culture of Mental Health Related Sick Days

It has come to light that over half of all sick days at work are now caused by mental health issues ranging from stress, anxiety and depression in the UK. According to the Health and Safety Executive one in four people will suffer from a mental health problem at some point in their lives. Although mental health issues are becoming more and more common, the majority of them are mild short-term cases and are typically treated with medication that can be prescribed by a GP.

If you are unsure about the various impacts that mental health can have on your career or want to seek legal advice if you believe you are being treated unfairly, then mental health solicitors can help you.

The Build Up of Stress in The Workplace

It’s becoming more and more common for employees to become stressed while they are work. Growing demands, increased workloads and workplace politics can all take their toll. However, stress isn’t a condition that can be diagnosed on a psychiatric basis, it builds up over and if left can make people ill. The on-going effect of stress not being dealt with can result in headaches, anxiety, panic attacks and in the worst-case scenario; depression. It isn’t out of the ordinary for employees to carry on working through these symptoms but the majority of them reach the point where they can no longer cope and function in the workplace.

What is A Mental Health Day?

There are growing numbers of countries across the world embracing the concept of mental health days for their employees to help them take a break from the daily stress of their jobs. However, mental health days can be controversial for both employers and their employees. When it comes to physical sicknesses such as a cold or food poisoning it is generally accepted that the person in question will only take a single day off work to recover. If a person takes a mental health day off work to help them deal with stress, they may feel physically better to return to work the following day. But their mental health will not have recovered by taking a single day out from work. However, this isn’t to say that mental health days are bad things. They are far from it.

Taking a mental health day from work can give the person suffering the time to do something positive for their health which may help reduce stress levels from increasing and therefore prevent their condition from escalating further. The idea of these days are not to avoid going to work, it’s about using personal time to be proactive and taking control.

In the United Kingdom, mental health days are far less common than other western countries like the United States. However, it is something that more and more businesses and organisations should consider to protect their employees’ mental health and workplace performance. Organisations that are thinking about introducing mental health days need to do their research and clearly define how they can be introduced into their company policies. However, do be aware that if you are thinking about introducing mental health days, there are a few different barriers that can get in the way.

  • Mental health conditions are not openly regarded as a physical illness and is a controversial subject to discuss for many people. Those who have never suffered with mental health conditions often dismiss it a taboo subject.
  • Everyone within a workplace can deal with different situations and workloads in various ways. What someone might find easy, the other will find a daunting task. It may cause overwhelming stress for those who are struggling. This can make it extremely difficult for colleagues to empathise and try to help them.

Employees who were diagnosed with a mental health condition that can have a long-term effect on their professional ability will find that their employers will make adjustments to the way they work to help them. However, their issues won’t be physically noticeable so when things get too much, and they require a day off, other colleagues may perceive their mental health condition as an excuse for a day off work.

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