Could Introducing Mental Health Days Help Your Business Support Employee Wellbeing?

mental health lonely

When it comes to a productive business, happy and healthy employees are essential. Whether it is physical safety or mental wellbeing, maintaining a good working environment is the responsibility of any business.

With Mental Health Awareness Week from 13th to 19th May, looking into your business’ mental health strategies is crucial for caring for your employees’ wellbeing.

David Banaghan, Interim CEO at Occupop, hiring software providers, says: “Caring for your employees’ wellbeing is more than just focusing on initiatives and free resources. Some companies are taking it as far as offering mental health days to help their employees recuperate and rest when they need it most. The benefits can range from improved productivity to more successful recruitment.”

Mental health days in business

Mental health days are only one way of supporting your workforces with their wellbeing. Some 52% of employees don’t feel they get adequate support when it comes to addressing their mental health at work.

Over one-third of companies (71%) celebrate mental health awareness days. However, with mental health days not being a legal requirement, many companies don’t offer this as part of their wellbeing packages. Mental health days can be a good way of reducing the stigma and shame around taking a day for yourself as an employee, as well as being open and transparent with HR about the reasons one needs more time off.

David says: “Addressing mental health concerns deserves a holistic approach. Your workforce should be happy and comfortable coming to work. Both personal and professional settings can cause problems with mental health, so being able to offer your staff the right support is necessary for ensuring they’re happier and more productive in the workplace. Mental health days are only one of the many ways you can offer your workforce the additional support they need.”

It is important to note that mental health days shouldn’t be a replacement for mental health support, and it is important that, as a business, you’re offering comprehensive strategies for caring for your employees’ wellbeing. Additional support can include assessing burnout rates and addressing the causes of mental health issues in the workplace.

The cost of absenteeism

Untreated mental wellbeing concerns can lead to further absences than one day. Mental health days are important to offer your employees a shame-free option for caring for their wellbeing. In the UK, sick leave hit a 10-year high, with more employees taking absences in 2023 than in previous years. This comes from a number of factors, including burnout and mental health issues.

David says: “Companies are seeing higher levels of absenteeism than ever before. With the average person taking 7.8 days of sick leave and the number being considerably higher in the public sector, companies are now having to reconsider their approach to health and wellbeing in the workplace.

“Repeated sick leaves not only have an impact on your business but also on the comfort and confidence of your employees, so finding ways of approaching mental wellbeing and supported return to work is important.”

Not only is absenteeism costing your business, but presenteeism is also a leading factor in costs. In fact, businesses are forking out between £33 and £42 billion a year due to this phenomenon. Whether it is from the stigma of taking time off work or believing taking time off causes more stress, there are plenty of reasons your employees won’t be taking their mental wellbeing seriously enough. Instead of allowing them to struggle at work alone, opening up the discussions, recognising the signs of burnout, and offering the right support are crucial for the success of your business and workforce.

The benefits of mental health days

Improves productivity

There is no doubt that mental health has a significant impact on your employee’s productivity. Not only does absenteeism cause a drop in task completion, but even working employees struggling with their mental health can find it difficult to complete tasks. In fact, mental health issues such as anxiety can cause issues with concentration and even make meeting deadlines difficult.

Mental health days can ensure your employees have the space to step away from the day-to-day stress. This can help improve productivity as it eases the burden on your workforce.

Company culture and morale

Companies that don’t offer mental health days might find their productivity slipping during stressful times of the year. If you’re not offering mental health days or opening the conversation on mental health enough, you could be contributing to the stigma around poor mental health in the workplace.

Some 12.7% of all sick leave stems from mental health issues, making it more important than ever to consider your own approach to the mental health dialogue. If your employees don’t feel comfortable opening up about their mental wellbeing, it can lead to further absences which aren’t recorded as mental health – making it more difficult for you to offer the right support. Ensuring you’re presenting your company in the right light is vital for your occupational health.

The right mental health wellbeing packages can also make your company more attractive to job seekers who value this as an incentive. By investing in your employees, you’ll be able to build a workforce that values and supports your business in return.

Avoid “wellbeing washing”

Some companies might be “wellbeing washing” without offering the right resources. Wellbeing washing can come from companies celebrating awareness days without actively contributing to the wellbeing of their employees. As companies grow and branding becomes more important to the public, your social responsibilities become crucial to your business identity.

Mental health days can be a good way to allow your employees to take the days they need to support their mental health without causing shame or embarrassment around the time off.


Mental health days can also be a great way for your business to save money. It might sound counter-intuitive, but by allowing your employees to take more time off when they truly need it, they’re more likely to be productive when they are at work.

This provides you with better quality work, happier employees, and hopefully a reduction in sick leave going forward.

Mental wellbeing is only one social responsibility that you should be considering, but it is an important one. As the average sick leave continues to grow, being able to care for your employees’ wellbeing is vital.

Mental health days are another way you can support your staff and give them the time they need to recover without adding to the stigma around this area.

PM Today Interview Team
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