Planning to promote mental wellbeing

With increased discussion over the role of mental health days as part of the provisions of personal leave, it is important for businesses to consider the benefit of not only promoting the availability of these days to their employees but actively seeking to plan the use of these days.

While unexpected situations can come up that mean employees may need to take a mental health day as part of their leave provisions, some of these days could be planned to promote good mental health in the workplace, avoid burn out and encourage work-life balance.

Planning to take these days in advance can also ensure the workplace can cover for any absences and undertake adequate hand over.

But how can they be planned, and more importantly, how do employers approach the situation in their workplace?

(1) Find the term for mental health days. Some employees may feel the name has a negative connotation. Find a term that might work best for your team – perhaps a ‘take a break’ day, a ‘life administration’ day or simply a ‘wellbeing day’ may be a better way to help employees understand that these days are ok to access.

(2) Discuss the availability of these days for employees and offer them proactively. Perhaps as part of a performance review, or planning session, they could be mentioned as an opportunity for an employee to schedule in a day to take a break and refresh their mind and body. Maybe they need a day every quarter to take a day trip or spend with their kids if that helps them de-stress and keep on top of their game.

(3) Keep an eye out for any employees who may have some additional stress in their life as a result of a big work project, or something happening in their personal life (moving, a series of medical tests, transitioning a family member to aged care, children undertaking VCE exams, etc). Make mention to them that it’s ok to schedule in a day if they need a rest or to catch up on a few personal matters.