NEW YORK — It turns out two weeks of vacation isn’t enough for most U.S. employees. The average American says they need a week’s worth of mental health days to be productive at work.
A new study surveying 2,000 adults on workplace practices finds that seven in 10 respondents believe that employers should offer mental health days in addition to sick time or PTO. More than three-quarters of Americans say having mental health days and more convenient, affordable access to mental health services or virtual care would help them be more productive in their jobs (78%). Another 64 percent say they’d be more inclined to work for a company that offers those benefits.
Employed respondents, on average, have taken four mental health days within the past year to help them recuperate, with 38 percent admitting they’ve taken more than this. Another 72 percent plan on taking one before the end of the year.
Those who have previously taken mental health days outlined how they spent their time, citing exercising to keep their energy up (44%), watching TV to unwind (43%), and sleeping in or relaxing to recharge (42%).
Half of Americans are struggling with mental health issues
Results showed that most respondents admit they don’t always prioritize their own mental health needs (83%). Only 30 percent of respondents described their mental health as “excellent,” while a quarter says theirs is “average” or “poor.” Similarly, nearly half of Americans struggle with their mental health “always” or “often” (49%).
Conducted by OnePoll in partnership with 98point6, the survey also found that while most have been in denial about needing help with their mental health (59%), two in three want to break that barrier and open up – but don’t know who to talk to.
On average, people feel something’s weighing on them three times a week, which explains why 62 percent believe everyone can benefit from therapy.
“While the pandemic has certainly been a root cause behind the rise in mental health challenges, it’s also changed the public perception around seeking and receiving mental health treatment,” says Dr. Mara Kailin, 98point6’s senior director of behavioral health, in a statement. “In the past, many mental health needs went unaddressed, but now we’re finally starting to see the stigma around receiving therapy and other mental health services dissipate.”
“People know they need help, and now with virtual platforms, care is more convenient and accessible. This affords people the opportunity to receive quality treatment on their terms, helping them to be happier at home and more productive at work.”
Is the stigma going away?
Half of respondents say they notice a change in their physical health when struggling with their mental health.
Fifty-five percent also would be more likely to seek mental health care if a primary care doctor recommended it to them. Two in three feel more comfortable seeking mental health services nowadays than they did a few years ago.
Nearly half of respondents have received therapy (47%), and those who have are twice as likely to describe their mental health as “excellent” (43% vs. 21%). Two-thirds received some form of healthcare via a telehealth service, citing the quality of care they got as “excellent” or “good” (87%). A similar percentage have become more comfortable with talking about their health concerns as a result (86%).
“Taking the first step toward achieving better mental health can often be the hardest, but delaying care can lead to negative health outcomes and higher costs down the road,” Kailin says. “Integrated, virtual care makes taking that first step easier. Once patients get over the hump of seeking care, they can get all of their needs met in one place, leading to better quality of life overall.”