Mental health problems are common among construction workers so taking care of our mental health is crucial and we should do it takes to ensure we are not only physically healthy and sound but mentally healthy and sound as well.That’s why a recent article on Abc.net.au is so interesting, it highlights the value of taking a mental health day off work, as you would a sick day.
According to a principal organisational psychologist Rachel Clements, mental health days actually help keep us healthy and allows us to do a better job.
“Taking a mental health day when you need it is, firstly, about demonstrating self-awareness, which is a cornerstone of resilience,” Ms Clements says.
“That awareness of ‘when is my stress now shifting from helpful to harmful?’ is a very good thing for people to be able to monitor themselves.
According to Dr Grant Blashki, a GP and beyondblue’s lead clinical advisor with decades of experience in the mental health industry, employees aren’t the only ones who benefit from mental health days and a “mentally friendly” workplace.
A report found that for every $1 a workplace spent on making being more mentally healthy, they recouped $2.30 on average in return, in the long run.
Some of the reasons include less absenteeism (naturally because people are happy they come in to work) and less presenteeism (when people are unwell at work, they are less productive). People are also more passionate about their work because support is available for them.
“So aside from the moral compassion argument, there’s also an economic argument to make the workplace more mentally healthy,” Dr Blashki says.
It’s important to note: some people use mental health days as a way to “chuck a sickie” and take a day off. But for those who need them, mental health days are important for maintaining their wellbeing.
“We have to be a bit careful with language,” Dr Blashki says. “In Australian culture we use terms like depression or mental health day in a colloquial way, rather than in a clinical way.”
Although the stigmas around mental health problems are being broken down, many people especially in the construction industry still don’t feel like they can discuss mental health days with managers or colleagues because of the workplace culture or shame amongst the community, Dr Blashki explained. We still have far to go when it comes to mental health.
“In a perfect world we would have less stigma in both society and the workplace. But the reality is we still have a long way to go,” Dr Blashki says.
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