By Jasmine Williams
I heard a soft knock at my bedroom door. My mom was checking to see if I was ready for school, so I groaned and pulled the covers over my head.
“I just can’t do it today. I really don’t feel like going,” I said.
“Well, do you have a test or any other big assignments due today?” my mom asked.
“No, I just wish I could take a break,” I replied.
“Okay … then take a break. Take a mental health day,” my mom said as she walked out of my room and closed the door.
I was stunned. Did I just get a free pass to skip school? This was every high schooler’s dream.
Many people still have misconceptions about mental health days and mental health in general. Although I didn’t quite understand it back in high school, I eventually learned there is a lot more to a mental health day than just getting to miss work or school.
What are mental health days?
A mental health day is the opportunity to take a break.
Many employees are busy juggling client work, prioritizing their health/wellness, and taking care of families of their own. That’s why this particular form of time off can be so crucial — it can help minimize the effects of stress and burnout.
For millions of people around the world, the coronavirus pandemic has been an exceptionally stressful time as our work and home lives suddenly collided. Not to mention, we watched many of our go-to stress relievers — traveling, visiting family and friends, and shopping — practically disappear overnight.
But as we continue to navigate the impact of COVID-19 on our lives, mental health days are more crucial than ever.
“Coping with stress [of COVID-19] in a healthy way will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger,” shares The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Do employees really need mental health days?
If you’re wondering how this time off differs from your typical weekend, keep in mind that one of the biggest benefits of a mental health day is it introduces a shift in your typical schedule. Whether it’s sleeping in on a Monday, running errands during the workday, or binge-watching your favorite Netflix show, this change in our routine empowers us to hit the reset button and give our minds (and bodies) some much-needed rest.
It’s worth noting that these days are not exclusive to people with diagnosed mental health conditions; mental health days are beneficial for everyone.
According to Thrive Global, “Mental health days can be an effective tool at the individual employee level to help manage any challenges they are experiencing, whether that be mental health-related or other things happening outside of work.”
While it’s not always convenient to take time off from work, it’s important to remember that your physical and mental health are a priority, too. As my former manager used to say, “If you don’t choose your time off, your body will eventually choose it for you.”
I encourage you to talk with your manager about your team’s schedule and upcoming priorities to determine together when it might be a good time for you to take a day off. The further in advance you can have this conversation, the better. This will allow you both time to prepare before you turn on your out of office; there’s nothing worse than taking a day off and finding yourself even more stressed than when you left.
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A Note From DCG Human Resources
The health and wellness, physically and mentally, of DCG’s employees is extremely important. Employees may use their accrued sick leave for four main reasons. Those reasons include both mental and physical illness, injuries, and health conditions. DCG encourages its team members to utilize their sick leave for mental health needs, providing their manager with as much notice as possible.