Workers, bosses divided over time off for mental health

WASHINGTON — Stress, anxiety or depression: None of these may be a good reason for missing a day’s work without ticking off the boss.

Mental health treatment providers are concerned that nearly 70 percent of bosses don’t think mental health, including stress, anxiety or depression, are valid reasons for calling in sick.

“It goes back to a stigma that has existed in our culture forever, that if you have any kind of a mental health disorder somehow it’s something you should have control over, something that is your fault,” says Toni Coleman, a McLean, Virginia, psychotherapist.

DailyMail.com reports just 40 percent of workers would be honest about their mental health problems when calling to say they won’t be at work.

Yet many workers identify mental health as an appropriate reason to call in sick.

“With the rise in notoriety that mental illness is getting, it should become more acceptable for employees to take a mental health day if they need it,” says Michael Eppenberger, a D.C.-based editorial assistant.

Mental health professionals believe employees suffering severe anxiety, stress or depression should stay home from work.

“What ends up happening when you’re dealing with any type of severe anxiety or depression, it can literally cripple somebody. … It can pose a real risk in things like driving,” Coleman says.

Employees feel comfortable telling a boss they have a cold, a touch of flu or a belly ache, but what should an employee say when calling in sick for a mental health day?

“What I advise people to do is to give out the minimum amount of information that you need to give: ‘I am dealing with something,’ ‘I’m being treated for depression,’ or ‘I have some anxiety, but I’m working with somebody,’” says Coleman.

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