Opinion | We’ve All Taken a Sick Day. Now Let’s Embrace Taking Mental Health Days

By: | October 20, 2021

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]

There’s a lot of talk about how COVID-19 pushed mental health awareness into the spotlight. I guess better late than never because the deplorable mental health of many in the U.S. has been an issue for some time now.

Getting beyond the stigma of discussing mental health is going to take some time. It’s a crucial evolution, though, that we must succeed at.

Here’s an idea. The time has come to rethink the concept of the “sick day,” the employee “benefit” that allows a worker to call in sick, take the day off, and still get paid for that timecard slot.

What employees should be empowered to do, and their employers should be with them on this, is to call off on days where they are mentally unwell.

Traditionally, most of us felt we needed to be running a fever, have a bad cold, a migraine, be suffering from digestive issues, or some other painful physical malady to take a day off.

What I’m suggesting is that anxiety attacks, depression, a bout of rage at a co-worker, or paranoia, be considered just as valid a complaint.

To pull this off, a new name for “sick day” will have to be found. After all, referring to ourselves as “sick in the head” won’t cut it, no matter how enlightened we eventually become.

Credit the pandemic, but the alienation of remote work has pushed many to the brink. I hope all of us survive and that in the workplace, we find more productive ways to manage our mental health and take time to heal it when we need to. &

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