Mental health days more necessary than ever

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Now more than ever, it’s important for us to take care of our mental health.

For the past eight months, we’ve had to comply with shelter-in-place orders and social distancing requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Some of us might be experiencing the negative effects of social isolation and working from home. Others of us might be experiencing the burnout that comes with working from home and feeling powerless over our current circumstances.

Data released this year by NordVPN Teams, a cloud-based virtual private network service for businesses, found there has been a massive spike in business VPN usage. The U.S. increased their average workday by almost 40 percent, adding an extra three hours.

It could be difficult for us to disconnect from work when working remotely. Our homes become our offices and it may start to feel as though our lives are one never-ending work shift.

Add political tension that has come with the 2020 presidential election to the mix and you have a recipe for mental health disaster.

A newly published study by the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) found adults who supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election experienced poor mental health after her loss, leading researchers to believe this is common amongst individuals who support the losing candidates in elections.

The country is suffering from the pandemic and we’re living in a time of constant change. The direction we’re heading in often feels unknown.

We could try to put on a brave face and weather the storm, but the reality is we’re human. We’re not invincible. We can’t be strong all the time and that’s okay.

With this in mind, mental health days should be made a standard policy for all schools and workplaces.

Mental health is just as important as physical health. It’s time for schools and workplaces to acknowledge this.

While most schools are distance learning, students can still need time to take a step back. 

At the college level, professors should be flexible with deadlines and understand not all students are in a good headspace right now. They may not be able to perform to the same standard they did before the pandemic and that’s not their fault.

It’s an educator’s duty to support their students in their learning journey, not make it more difficult.

Professors should acknowledge there are bigger things happening in the world that could potentially take a toll on students and their mental health. If a student asks for an extension once, it doesn’t necessarily mean the student is lazy.

The same applies to employees.

Although employees already have the option of calling out when they’re sick, they should have the ability to take a personal day for mental health reasons.

A survey of 1,000 employees by Aetna International, a health insurance company, found 32 percent of employees used their sick days due to poor mental health.

If mental health days were a standard policy, employees wouldn’t have to worry about using their sick days when they’re feeling overwhelmed and in need of a break.

Not only will this benefit employees, but it’ll also benefit employers.

Employees who are in a state of optimum mental health will be more productive than those who aren’t.

Allotting mental health days would give employees the opportunity to improve their emotional well-being without sacrificing their sick days, and employers would enjoy increased productivity from employees.