Do Mental Health Days Work? An Employer’s Perspective

The Futility of Mental Health Days (Forbes, Oct 2019)

The Critical Importance of Mental Health Days (Business News Daily, Oct 2023

Mental Health Days Are Only a Bandaid for Burnout (The Atlantic, Nov 2022)

The above are all headlines from recent articles debating the necessity of mental health days in the American workplace. They, among a contradictory slew of others, are what pop up for online searches for answers. It provides business owners such as yourself with little to no clarity.

You do understand that doing what you can to support the mental health of employees is important. It’s not only ethical and a part of corporate social responsibility, it’s a smart business decision. Research consistently shows that investment in organizational mental health increases workplace satisfaction, reduces turnover, enhances productivity, and improves the fiscal bottomline. However, you want to make sure that you’re making the right investments. There is indeed a tangible cost in providing paid and unpaid mental health days to staff. Further, with no federal law to require employers to provide time-off specifically for mental health reasons, anything you provision may be accountable to stakeholders. It doesn’t help that there are a Reddit discussions on the web telling tales of employees who abuse these opportunities to take a siesta from their daily grind.

So, do mental health days work to the benefit of staff and the business? They can as long as you execute the following.

3 Powerful Ways to Ensure that Organizational Investment in Mental Health Days for Staff is Effective

I. A Policy Founded in Trust and Compassion

Despite concerns you may have about certain staff members abusing the system (which indicates a deeper concern regarding corporate culture) you must base the program in trust and compassion. Employees need to know that you’re initiating the program because the organization understands that they may be struggling with their emotional and mental wellbeing both at work and at home. The program cannot be made to seem as if it’s to fill some obligation to corporate social responsibility. If it comes off as inauthentic, employees will pick up on it and be more likely to abuse the system. It’s the old “If they think I’m cheating, then I may as well cheat” mentality.

To convey trust, there can be no literal and proverbial doctor’s note requirement to requesting and taking a mental health break. A “no questions asked” policy is critical to protecting confidentiality regarding specific disorders and conditions that they may struggle with. Providing a hybrid of paid and unpaid mental health days offers a reasonable balance that will also infer trust and compassion. While the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require payment for time not worked, such as personal leave, you can borrow inspiration from our neighbors north of the border. The Canada Labor Code stipulates that every employee is entitled to and shall be granted a personal leave of absence (a synonym for mental health days) from employment of up to five days in every calendar year. If an employee has completed three consecutive months of continuous employment with an employer, the employee is entitled to the first three days of the leave with pay at their regular rate of wages. Lastly, when initiating the program be sure to communicate to staff (verbally and in written form) that the program is rooted in appreciation for what they go through in their lives, and that you’re with them in support of their mental health. This sort of open communication will go a long way towards establishing a sense of compassion and trust.

II. Educate Staff on How to Get the Most From Their Time-Off

Mental health days will prove ineffective if employees don’t use the time-off to actually work on improving their mental wellbeing. When creating the workplace policy regarding mental health support (to be shared with staff) integrate education on how they can better attend to self-care during their break from the office. Kindbridge Behavioral Health has put together a guide that you can borrow from:

What Individuals Can Do to Ensure Mental Health Days Make a Positive Difference

III. Connect Staff to a Customized Mental Health Support Platform

Empower your employees even further by provisioning access to an online mental health support platform. You can connect them to a virtual care provider that offers online counseling and therapy for stress, anxiety, depression, anger management, and a number of behavioral health disoders. The more tailored to their roles and experiences, the more effective treatment can be.

Through Kindbridge Behavioral Health, a workplace platform can be customized to account for issues they may experience under high-stress environments that may be unique to your business. For instance, Kindbridge works at an organizational level with the military (view example), athletes (view more) and those under the employee of gambling and gaming companies (view more) among others. We can customize an online platform for your staff to provide them with access to support during their mental health days, and any other time they feel the need to reach out for help. Partial coverage may even be made possible through your company provided insurance plan.

Do mental health days work and make sense for your organization? They most certainly can! Reach out via contacts provided below. Together we will come up with a strategy that delivers an ROI for your cherished employees and company as a whole.

Build Your Company’s Mental Health Support Platform Today

CALL +1 (877) 426-4258


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