Viral Post Sparks Discussion About Mental Health Days At Work

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FORT SMITH (KFSM)- The issue of mental health and whether or not it is okay to take mental health days at work is making headlines after an email went viral of a woman telling her co-workers she was taking two days to focus on her mental health.

"We're afraid to say, 'Wait a minute, I'm struggling,'" said John Skelly, therapist at Fresh Roots Family Counseling.

Many are questioning whether mental health days should be allowed at work.

Skelly has been a therapist in Fort Smith for 15 years and said he's seen the struggles that many have with mental health in the workplace. He said yes, they should be allowed at work.

"We have to be able to say, 'That's enough, I have to take care of myself too,' which is maybe becoming more evident to employers these days than it has been in the past," Skelly said.

But not everyone agrees.

"You deal with it. Get up and go to work. It's called being an adult," said Ty on Facebook.

Skelly said mental health affects your physical health and should be taken just as seriously.

"Any kind of mental health issue brings with it a kind of stigma," Skelly said. "If I had a broken arm, I'll get the support I need, but if I have a broken brain, who do I go to? You can push yourself to a point so far that you don't get any productivity done that day anyway. It doesn't do anybody any good if I'm staring at my screen just looking at it or not doing any work because my mind can't slow down to focus on one thing or another."

Others on social media agree and said mental health days are needed.

"Mental illness is a valid medical condition. You wouldn't be mad if someone had to take a couple of days off of work because he or she had the flu," Amy said. "What's the difference?"

"It would be best to take two days, refocus, refresh and come back and do the job you were hired to do," Skelly said.

Skelly said you have to take it one step at a time.

"I tell my clients it's like drinking from the fire hose," Skelly said. "I can get a drink that way, but it's going to overwhelm me, but if I take one sip at a time, then I can focus."

The viral email resulted in the CEO of the woman's company responding with a thank you and said it serves as a reminder of how important focusing on mental health is.

Skelly suggests if you feel like something may be wrong, talk with your family and figure out the appropriate steps to take in order to get help.

A study done in 2016 by Psychology World said one in three people reported being chronically stressed on the job.

For those who may need help, it is also suggested to call your insurance company to see if counseling services may be covered.