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Call it what you will, more people are taking mental health days

Work stress
Posted at 8:00 AM, Apr 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-20 21:23:26-04

Calling in sick to work is nothing new. Calling into work to take a mental health day is something more companies are honoring in a modern work world.

ABC15 asked experts how to know when it’s time for a mental health day, the benefits of taking a day for yourself following work burnout, and what the state has done to offer paid sick time off.

When most were at work on a Monday afternoon, Ashlyn Reves and Makenna Bowerfind were letting the wind run through their hair with a scooter under their feet.

“This is our mental health day, you’re looking at it,” said Reves.

Enjoying Tempe Town Lake and having a day to themselves is needed, they say, after days of watching over kids as nannies.

”I feel anyone who has little siblings, they kind of know the struggles of watching little kids all day,” she said.

For Romal Jones, a delivery driver, it may not be work dragging on him - just regular life.

”You got bills, all that stuff plays a factor in your mental [health] you know? You got a bill coming up, you have to work extra hard today, I got to get more overtime, and gas prices?” he said.

Ray Young, a licensed counselor at Terros Health says if you’re starting to get short with those around you, you’re not meeting expectations at work and stress keeps you up at night, you might be experiencing burnout at work and could use a day for yourself.

“Maybe it’s time to unplug or take a day, or a half day even,” he said. He says constant anxiety provoking information at our fingertips and the high-demands of work have led more employees to call in and ask for a mental health day – even though they many not call it that.

When asked how to request a mental health day, Ray said, “It’s one of those things, for some people it can be embarrassing that you don’t want to say it. But having that open-door policy and it’s okay if you don’t want to say it. Some just call in sick,” he said.

In Arizona, an initiative passed in 2016 called prop 206 which, in part, guaranteed 40 hours annual paid sick time for businesses with 15 or more employees.

Employees can accrue one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked.

The state statute allows employees to ear paid sick time to be used for medical care, which can include mental health, an employee need to care for a family member, a public health emergency or addressing domestic violence. Young says once stress from work or life starts to build, it can lead to being physically sick.

“Your body when it’s going through all of that, people continue to be sick,” said Young.

Some tech companies like LinkedIn and Bumble gave hundreds of their employees a full week off last year, just to disconnect.

Employees reportedly said they came back refreshed and more productive upon returning.

“Talking about it, it starts normalizing it,” said Young.