We often talk about the importance of holistic wellness, an approach that recognizes the interdependence of physical and mental health and looks at how the However, it is not always easy to miss work for mental health reasons.
Although mental health problems are recognized by the medical network, are based on clear diagnostic criteria and are associated with defined treatment options like any other illness, a study revealed that mental health disorders are still subject to social prejudice. Result: employees are hesitant to talk about what is wrong. 1Several people who were surveyed fear that their colleagues will “devalue” them or that they will have a “very negative opinion of them”. The Center for Addiction and Mental Health of Canada recognizes that “mental health is not taken as seriously or treated as urgently as physical health”, and the center considers this fact to be “one of the most major problems of our health system, and of society as a whole”. 2
It is important to understand that mental health equals health. And mental health issues need to be treated with the same importance and urgency as physical issues.
Mental health and physical health are on a spectrum
It’s normal to feel depressed when fighting a cold; it’s one of the signs that our immune system and our mental health have an impact on each other. However, the relationship goes both ways: our mental health can also influence our immunity. For example, certain health conditions such as depression or anxiety can lead to an active sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the fight or flight response. And when this response is activated, our immune defenses decrease. Showing self-compassion has been shown to reduce depression and anxiety, in addition to calming the system associated with threats.. So, stopping for a moment to take care of yourself can boost our mood as much as our immune system.
Additionally, taking time for yourself can help with digestion; indeed, the intestine constitutes another apparatus of the organism which is influenced by our emotional state , therefore by anger, by anxiety or by sadness. If stress gives you stomach aches, it’s likely because “stress, depression, and other psychological factors can disrupt the brain-gut connection and cause changes to gut physiology.” Likewise, what we eat affects our mood. According to studies, ” proper nutrition helps relieve symptoms and improve overall well-being, while helping us cope with difficult times.”
In other words, if maintaining mental health is important in itself, it is also because it contributes to physical health, as well as reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes , heart disease and stroke .
Rest as preventive care
This idea is particularly relevant when talking about taking time off purely for mental health. Indeed, workplace stress is a significant issue for Canadians: 35% of employees across the country say they suffer from burnout. 3 Burnout is defined as “a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress”, which causes the person to feel “emotionally exhausted and unable to function in the course of their work or in other aspects of life.
It is clear that chronic stress must be treated with the same seriousness as a health risk. And one of the best things you could do when the stress gets too overwhelming is to take the day off. Even better, you could schedule time off purely to look after your mental health if you know you’ll need a break after a busy period. 5 And setting aside your lunch hour to rest and recharge is a good strategy for maintaining optimal mental health.
Productivity can testify
Considering the consequences of stress in the workplace, you should not worry about missing a day of work to take care of your mental health. These leaves entail advantages for both you and your employer; in fact, studies conducted by LifeWorks have found that people with a mental health score of -40 or less experience an estimated 27% loss in productivity. 6
In addition, employees who work in a state of ill-being generally have a lower mental health index. 7 In the August 2022 LifeWorks Mental Health Index Report, 53% of respondents say they work while not feeling well at least once a week, either physically or psychological. The report found that “the mental health score of Canadians who never do their job when they feel bad (76.4) is nearly 36 points higher than those who work all week in a state of malaise (42.8)”. 8
TELUS Health Virtual Care recognizes that mental health is part of health. Moreover, since “the majority of employers agree that health-related behavioral issues should be treated with the same urgency, skill and compassion as other medical conditions (such as diabetes)” 9 , your employer must also agree. This is why we are here.
So if you notice signs that your health is deteriorating, such as mood swings, loss of productivity, trouble concentrating, irritability, or trouble sleeping, consider talking to your employer about ‘a day off. 10 And if you’re looking for support, you can make an appointment on the app to speak with a mental health specialist .