I used to know someone who worked in an accounting department. Their department head allowed everyone to call in an occasional “mental health day”. Vacation time had to be approved well in advance, and it was usually assumed that anyone taking vacation would take several days. Anyone could call in sick if they woke up under the weather, of course, but if you were sick you were expected to stay home. Someone taking a mental health day could go to the gym, go to the park, go to a coffee shop. If the boss found out—and sometimes they did find out—it was copacetic. Someone who’d had a bad day, or a cluster of bad days, could call in and say, “I need a mental health day,” and do whatever they needed to decompress.
There were a few restrictions on this. The April tax season and the end of the fiscal year, which was the last day of June, were really busy times, and everyone was asked—though not required—to not take mental health days during those times unless it was really, really necessary. Important meetings couldn’t be skipped, and no more than one or two people at a time could take a mental health day. And obviously no one could take one every single week; three to four times a year was preferred.
It was a great idea, and it placed a lot of trust in the employees, which may be why no one abused the privilege. Whoever came up with the idea obviously knew the old saying about an ounce of prevention. And also that people will frequently do the right thing. I don’t think it’s just because they were all accountants either, though accountants are known for being sticklers when it comes to rules. A few of them might also have been actuaries, and you know what they say: actuaries are accountants who can’t take the excitement.
The one thing I never thought to ask was, how many people called in mental health days around the time the clocks had to be set forward or back for Daylight Savings Time? Because it doesn’t matter whether it’s losing or gaining an hour. The time change always throws me off mentally.