Why Every Business Needs Mental Health Days

Less than 4 months ago I had a panic attack at work.


The author of this blog who doesn’t shut up about mental health and her conviction in making it less taboo and more wahoo by using a multitude of lifestyle factors to manage/cure/keep it the hell away, had the delightful experience of her first one since school.

Mad did I feel like a fraud for allowing it to sneak up on me and take hold of my life for the next few days.

Not cool.

But even less cooler are the series of events that led me up to it so here’s a comment I wanna get in straight off the bat.

Just because you pay someone a wage does not automatically give you the right to treat that person like they just ran over your dog.

Translation; a piece of poop.

Na uh.

Now I’ve been witness to a multitude of bosses in my career so far. The leader, the manipulator, the friend and the player of the game. And I get it! Ultimately you want to be the boss so you can make a buck – no shame in that.

But what if I told you that you could make so much MORE if the mental wellbeing of your staff was a priority? And then threw some flashy facts your way to back it up.

Would it grab your attention then?

Gina Soleil stated in a recent article written for The Huffington Post that “stress has been called the “health epidemic of the 21st century” by the World Health Organisation”.

Let’s read that again…

Stress has been called the “health epidemic of the 21st century” by the World Health Organisation.

Those is BIG words!!!!!

I believe this means that any boss responsible for employees, for actual human beings, is going to need to take note of how he treats his staff. Like a genuine concern for your crew bro.

And no, that doesn’t make you soft or in the business of breeding soft people; it makes you smart and adaptable to an ever changing world. 

This dude gets it. He implemented a 5 hour work day because “humans are not machines” and “happiness boosts productivity”. Oh and Mr Stephan Aarstol states “The results have been astounding. Last year, we were named the fastest-growing private company in San Diego. This year, our 9-person team will generate $9 million in revenue”.


Happy staff = engaged staff = increased productivity = engaged customers = increased profit = FUCKING GAME CHANGER

Being mindful and in tune to your staffs needs is where companies could do well to pay attention. And this example of success isn’t a one off. According to Dame Carol Black’s Review (2008), the most commonly mentioned benefits of investing in employee wellbeing were: increased productivity, reduced number of sickness absences, reduced staff turnover and increased retention of skills and improved staff morale. Also cited were: reduced recruitment and training costs, improved company reputation as a ‘good employer’ and improved financial performance and competitiveness.

However I have a hunch that deep down most companies already sorta kinda know this, they just haven’t implemented the processes and procedures to get them there. And I think this boils down to one simple explanation:

Common sense becomes lost for profit.

We’re in such a rush to get to that all important target we become caught up in a lot of bullshit and noise and behave like a stampede of buffaloes, knocking each other down to get that all important win, yet all the while losing so much more in the process.

No one wants to come to work to be spoken to rudely.

To dread their alarm each morning.

To be sworn at.

Abused. Bullied. Belittled. Unsupported.

We all have our own shit going on in this beautifully crazy thing we call life and no amount of money lightens the load if you’re faced with week after week of negativity.

If we were to tune into common sense once in a blue moon we’d hear it screaming “ we’ll get bucket loads more out of our team if we see to it that their working hours are spent in a mindful, supportive, structured and non aggressive environment.”

Is that too much to accomodate?

My man Richard Branson’s got it. This is no pipe dream or unrealistic goal we’re reaching for!

After the panic attack at work I was advised by more than one person to go on medication because they had noticed a “change” in me. Whilst I believe that this advice came from a place of love I chose to opt out of this particular route because deep down I knew that my situation had been brought on by months of stress and an unhappiness in my role; a whole multitude of factors that a pill would only numb me to.

The symptoms would be gone but not the cause.
I spent some time chatting with a friend who happens to be the Psychologist for the charity Zero2Hero and I opened up to him about what had happened and where my head was at.

His advice?

Take a mental health day. Take a day for you to switch off, to let the adrenaline dissipate, to get some rest, read a book and to remove yourself from an environment that is clearly chipping away at you. This conversation and that mental health day played a huge part in allowing me to put everything into perspective. Such a simple yet effective tool which I believe MUST be something that all employers look to incorporate in their business. For everyone. Not just the high flyers or favourites.

Whether it be reduced hours or a mental health day or perhaps even a workshop rolled out by a Health or Life Coach so that staff can learn valuable skills to improve their wellbeing, I urge you to think about the bigger picture.

People do break because “humans are not machines”.

Evolve past the 40 hour work week that hasn’t budged in as long as 100 years and be a leader, a positive influence, a game changer, a fucking baller.

And in return your staff will be loyal, proactive, engaged, happy, honest, less stressed and mentally stimulated.

Because I ask you this; if this all sounds too hard then are you truly in the right role? A role that involves being more responsible for peoples health that you probably realise.

Every person has the responsibility to take care of themselves; to eat right, to workout, to practise self care and to live as true to our own purpose as possible. That doesn’t change. But as an employer I wholeheartedly believe that you have the responsibility to take care of your employees and their mental health.

The total number of cases of work related stress, depression or anxiety in 2014/15 was 440,000 cases, a prevalence rate of 1380 per 100,000 workers. HSE STATISTICS

It can be a fine line when it comes to dealing with people and their health, the right and wrong, the dos and don’ts and the only way it can be achieved is by executing courageous action where needed and taking the time to slow down.

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. You’ll come up against those who don’t like change and others who prefer old school politics in favour of actually listening to what their staff need from them. But nothing worth doing is ever easy.

This is so much more important than corporate bullshit and ego; it’s about creating mini superheroes out of the people you employ so that they in turn, can make a hero out of your business.

And if after all this you still don’t get it, remember that “stress has been called the “health epidemic of the 21st century” by the World Health Organisation”.

What are you doing to do about it?


4 comments so far.

4 responses to “Why Every Business Needs Mental Health Days”

  1. Sita says:

    OMG Mental Health day would be awesome! Being my own boss, I make sure I get “me” days (which usually consists of going out for bubble tea and hanging out with my parents). Being a creative, I need these “breather” days to re-energise and re-inspire myself!

  2. Bethany says:

    The company I work for contradict everything they stand for in this sense. We promote healthy living and balance in life yet every manager in the company has to work a 45 hour work week? And often more without overtime rates. I don’t know what their end goal is by getting managers to work 45 hours, it’s insane! But it’s all in the contract so it’s legal. I end up having to take sick days or try and sneak a day in lieu as a mental health day but I’m officially not allowed them.
    We need to folllow the lead of the Swedes!

    • emmalouise says:

      Hi Bethany, thanks for your honest comment. I can totally relate being someone that has come from a corporate background where they spoke a big talk about culture but the actions taken were completely opposite. I commend you for taking sick days/time in lieu to get some you time. It’s so valuable! And it’s great that you’ve recognised that. Yes to the Swedes!