The importance of mental health days
Mental health · Nov 3, 2022
We often talk about the importance of holistic wellbeing, a concept that recognizes
A study found that even though mental health conditions are acknowledged within the medical system and have defined diagnostic criteria and treatment options, just like other ailments, there is still a social stigma that makes employees hesitate to reveal them.1 Many surveyed are concerned that their colleagues "would think they were worthless, or had serious character flaws.” Canada's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health recognizes “that mental health is not taken as seriously, and treated as urgently, as physical health" and considers it "one of the biggest issues in our healthcare system — and society at large.”2
But here’s the thing about mental health: it is health. And mental health concerns must be treated with the same importance and urgency as physical issues.
Mental and physical health are on a spectrum.
It’s pretty common to feel blue when you’re fighting off a cold. That’s one way your immune system and mental health intersect. But the relationship goes both ways: your mental health can also affect your immunity. For example, conditions like depression and anxiety are correlated with an active sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the fight-or-flight response. And when your fight-or-flight response is engaged, your immunity is lower. Practicing self-compassion has been shown to
It may even help your digestion, since
Put simply, while maintaining your mental health is important on its own, it’s also important because it contributes to your physical health — even lowering your
Rest is preventative care.
This is especially relevant to the topic of mental health days because workplace stress is a significant issue for Canadians: 35% of Canadian employees report that they are burned out.3 Burnout is “a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress” that has the effect of making a person feel “emotionally drained and unable to function in the context of work and other aspects of life.”4
Clearly chronic stress
The proof is in the productivity.
Considering the consequences of workplace stress, you should feel confident taking a mental health day. It benefits both you and your employer. LifeWorks research found those who have a mental health score of -40 or lower are estimated to have a productivity loss of 27%.6
What’s more, employees who work through periods of unwellness have lower mental health indices overall.7 In the August 2022 LifeWorks Mental Health Index, 53% of respondents said they do their job while feeling unwell, either physically or psychologically, at least once a week. The report found that “the mental health score of Canadians who never do their job when feeling unwell (76.4) is nearly 36 points higher than those who work feeling unwell five days per week (42.8).”8
TELUS Health Virtual Care recognizes that mental health is health, and since “most employers agree that behavioral-health conditions should be treated with the same urgency, skill, and compassion as other medical conditions (for example, diabetes) are,”9 your employer probably does too. That’s why we’re here.
So, if you notice signs that your health is suffering, such as mood changes, productivity loss, issues with concentration, irritability, or difficulty sleeping, consider speaking to your manager about taking the day off.10 And if you’re looking for support, you can make an appointment to
1Coe, E.; Cordina, J.; Enomoto, K. and Seshan, N. (2021, July 23). Overcoming stigma: Three strategies toward better mental health in the workplace. McKinsey. Retrieved September 28, 2022 from
2Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Mental Health Is Health. Retrieved September 28, 2022 from
3Mental Health Research Canada. (2022, January). Psychological Health and Safety in Canadian Workplaces. Retrieved September 20, 2022 from
4Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Career Burnout. Retrieved September 28, 2022 from
5Cleveland Clinic. (2022, April 11). Is Taking a Mental Health Day Actually Good for You? Retrieved September 28, 2022 from
6Lifeworks. (2021, September). The Mental Health Index report: August 2021. Retrieved September 28, 2022 from
7American Psychological Association (2022, June) Reexamine health insurance policies with a focus on employee mental health. Retrieved October 31, 2022 from
8Lifeworks. (2022, September). The Mental Health Index report: August 2022 (Canada). Retrieved October 4, 2022 from
9Coe, E.; Cordina, J.; Enomoto, K. and Seshan, N. (2021, July 23). Overcoming stigma: Three strategies toward better mental health in the workplace. McKinsey. Retrieved September 28, 2022 from
10 Caron, C. (2021, July 29). New York Times. When Work Weighs You Down, Take a ‘Sad Day’. Retrieved September 28, 2022 from