3 Mins

Have you taken a mental health day?

If so, did you tell your line manager that mental health was the reason for your absence?

Perhaps you’d rather declare a graphic case of norovirus than admit to needing time off for stress.

There is still a stigma behind mental health in the UK. 42% of UK employees call in sick claiming a physical illness when really there’s a mental health reason behind it.

The law is clear, you’re entitled to sick leave whether it’s for a physical or mental health reason.

But not all workplaces make it feel safe enough to say we’re struggling.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could have honest conversations with our employers instead of faking physical symptoms?

One company decided that was exactly what they wanted.

Biotech firm Roche & Genentech decided mental health was still a stigma in their company and wanted to address it. Here are some of the positive steps they took:

1. Senior leaders recorded videos talking about their personal mental health struggles which were sent to staff internally.

2. Hundreds of employees became mental health champions trained to support staff and improve workplace culture.

3. Thousands of employees got t-shirts with the words ‘R U OK?’ and on Wednesdays staff wore them to signal it’s safe to talk.

4. They made it easy to access resources and support.

The result was that 89% of staff surveyed agreed they now had a better understanding of mental health and felt they were more comfortable talking, reaching out for help, and supporting others.

What a result!

Workplaces should be safe spaces where you can show up and be authentic and honest and not risk rejection.

Let’s take the stigma out of mental health days.

Written by Jason Connolly