Despite an increase in Mental Health awareness and support during the pandemic, the majority of workers in North America (both salaried and hourly) feel a negative stigma towards taking time off for their mental health.
A survey done by OnePoll for Learn To Live surveyed over 2000 employees on their beliefs and experiences with mental health and work. The survey found that, although over 50% of workers needed or sought mental health support during the pandemic (either formally or informally), the majority still felt that mental health wasn’t a good enough reason to ask for time off.
Although they recognized the importance of taking time to care for their mental health (and felt the pandemic was a catalyst event for prioritizing this), over 70% of respondents said they would rather avoid citing mental health as a reason; they would instead use the reason of an appointment, family emergency, or something similar.
Why? A similar number of respondents felt that their bosses would judge them for taking a mental health day: that they would be viewed as unable to perform their job by associating themselves with mental illness.
This feeling was shared by over 62% of workers, despite the fact that studies have proven that a workforce that takes needed breaks to recharge not only improves productivity, but the company’s bottom line in the long run. Knowing this, most bosses should welcome and encourage employees to be more mindful of their mental health to avoid burnout, if for no other reason than to not hurt the company’s performance.
Leaps and bounds have been made in the issue of mental health in the workplace, and especially highlighted during the seismic shifts seen in workplace culture and mental health awareness during the pandemic. But it seems that the discussion of burnout, and its link to mental health support needs, has only just begun.