What’s your view of people taking a mental health day?

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: What’s your view of people taking a mental health day?

  • It’s important and they should do it whenever they need to: 78%
  • It should only be taken in severe circumstances: 19%
  • They shouldn’t take time off unless they have a physical illness: 3%

Health is health. While the overwhelming majority of you support your associates taking mental health days whenever needed, more than 20% of you are less supportive of that approach. With the rise of mental health issues at home and in the workplace, it’s incumbent upon leaders to expand their view of what self-care entails. Is it more important to keep track of why someone takes a sick day and approving or disapproving of their reasons for doing so or should we be focused more on healthy associates delivering solid performance? Most of us don’t have psychology, psychiatry, or medical degrees. We’re not qualified to accurately assess whether or not someone needs time off due to mental health reasons. If we’re not qualified to make that judgment, then we shouldn’t make it. Instead, ask how you can best support your associate who likely knows much better than you do what they need to take care of themselves.

Do you agree with these poll results? Let us know in the comments below!

Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC

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These results were originally a SmartPulse poll in SmartBrief on Leadership which tracks feedback from more than 240,000 business leaders. Get smarter on leadership and sign up for the SmartBrief on Leadership e-newsletter.

3 Responses to “What’s your view of people taking a mental health day?”

  1. Jeremy says:

    Mike, I tend to agree with your poll results. I especially like your comment, “We should be focused more on healthy associates delivering solid performance.” We’ve all been around someone who’s checked out and probably thought we’d get more done if they weren’t there. In my mind, the challenge if you let people take mental health days is, how do you not let them take advantage of the policy? We’ve all heard you give them an inch they take a mile.

    • Mike Figliuolo says:

      I think it’s a fair question Jeremy. I’d submit it’s no different than someone abusing other sick day policies. If they’re out too much, ensure they’re getting professional medical help. For physical ailments, obviously they should be seeing a doctor. For mental health, perhaps put them in touch with your EAP (employee assistance program) folks if you have that function. I’d also push us even more to an approach like Greg mentions – give people days for purposes of their own choosing. They then manage them. It seems unfair to punish healthy people for not taking sick days. Just give everyone the same number of days regardless of reason. If someone is in crisis for medical health or mental health, obviously involve professionals to assess the situation if it’s going to go beyond the allocated leave days.

  2. Greg Beckman says:

    I would add – qualifying “why” there is time is frivolous. Just take the time. Mental health, prostate health… it’s your time… use it.

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