In a survey of 1,000 office-based employees in the U.S., the U.K., Singapore, and the UAE, 35.8% admitted to lying about taking a sick day, with the most common reason being because of stress (32.1%).
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and isolation efforts in March, people across the world have been reporting increasing pressure on mental health. These confessions raise questions around the stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace.
Fake Being Sick
The data has been revealed in a recent report, Employee Perceptions of Mental and Physical Health in the Workplace, published by international health benefits provider, Aetna International. The report brings to light the views of employees in regards to discussing health issues at work and the impact a mental health diagnosis can play in reducing the stigma around it.
Employees were asked if they had ever lied to their employer about their reasons for taking day off. While “wanting a day off” was the second most frequented reason for lying, the most common reasons overall related to mental and emotional well-being:
- 1% of employees lied to their employers because they were feeling stressed
- 6% of employees lied because they were feeling down
- 3% of employees lied because they weren’t feeling themselves
- 6% of workers lied because they didn’t think their boss would understand
To make things worse, results also revealed that employees are twice more likely to take time off for a physical health conundrum than a mental health problem.
It is clear that there is still a high degree of stigma around mental wellbeing in the workplace. While this could be culture, there’s clearly more that needs to be done to help employees navigate mental health at work.
World Mental Health Day 2020
It was World Mental Health Day, and specialists say holding on to stress can take a toll on lives.
This year’s World Mental Health Day comes at a time with more strangers and confusion than many have seen in their lifetime.
“Principally during these times that are very challenging, when you turn on the news, there are a quantity of issues that present themselves as very concerning but also pose a noteworthy amount of stress on people,” said Lois Nesci, CEO of the Gandara Center.
She said everyday people should be conscious about mental health. She said talking about effects like the election, COVID-19, and racial equity can be stressful.
“These times cause extra anxiety and stress for people, and if folks find themselves either feeling that way or people around them — the way you see a lot of this evident is that people become a lot angrier, a lot more annoyed, a lot more fearful, and I think it’s imperative for us all to be aware of our own emotions, and the emotions and stress of people around us,” she said.
The World Health Organization said in times like these, investment in mental health is even and an essential part and more vital.
Mental Health A Reason For Lying About Taking Sick Days
In a statement on their website, the organization said in part, “Given past experience of emergencies, it is predictable that the necessity for mental health and psychosocial support will significantly increase in the coming months and years. Investment in mental health programmes at the national and international levels, which have now suffered from years of chronic underfunding, is now more central than it has ever been.”
Places like Gandara — which is a center for those harassed and feeling lost — is serving people both on-site and essentially. But Nesci had self-care suggestions people can do on their own.
“Doing things that deliver some type of normalcy,” she said. “On a stunning day like today, to go for a walk, to get out, to do some of the things that mark you feel good.”
She said mental health is likewise as vital as physical health, but it tends to come with a stigma.
“People are oftentimes embarrassed about mental health issues, and there’s no need to be,” she said. “Mental health is like physical health. We have to take care of our emotions as well as our physical bodies. So on a day like today, we should all be attentive of that. We should concede that mental health is equally as significant as physical health.”
Recent polls show that while most Americans endure at least somewhat hopeful about the future, hope is being tested. Suffering and division are ever-present, and there doesn’t appear a clear path forward. But psychologists say hope is not a luxury. For mental health, it’s a necessity.
Hope can be Use As A Resource
“Most people think about it … like the sprinklings on an ice cream, like it’s prodigious if it’s there, but I think it’s truly fundamental to our basic wellbeing,” said Nancy Colier, a psychotherapist and interfaith minister.
Saturday was World Mental Health Day, and decades of research expression hope is a robust predictor of mental health. Not only does it mark life more pleasurable, experts say, but hope also provides resilience against things like post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation. Hope offers chemical welfares too, in the form of endorphins and lowered stress levels, things, experts say, make people more productive.
Contrary to how some people talk about hope, researchers don’t sight it as a passive emotional state. While colloquially people may say things like, “sit back and hope for the best,” researchers who learning hope say it’s a vigorous coping approach.
“Hope is how we can ponder about our goals for the future, the magnitude that we can classify pathways or strategies to attain those goals and then maintaining the motivation or the agency to kind of keep working towards those goals, even in the face of obstacles or setbacks,” said Matthew Gallagher, an associate professor of clinical psychology at the University of Houston.
“It’s a resource that uniform people who are facing all kinds of obstacles are gifted to uphold and are bright to rely on to cope with all kinds of different stressors,” he said.
A CBS poll at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March found that overall people reported sensation calm (62%) and hopeful (55%) more than they felt negative emotions. A poll by The New York Times and Siena College in June found that while many Americans are frustrated in the short term, they continue hopeful in the long-run. Sixty-eight percent of voters said they were optimistic about the state of the country.
Hope and optimism are not the same
Although hope and optimism are occasionally used interchangeably, researchers say they are distinctive. Hope is about using personal agency to attain a desired outcome. Optimism is when people believe good things to happen more than bad ones.
“Both are about positive prospects for the future but one is about the individual driving work towards their goals … and the other is that we trust things are going to work out and we’re not sure how,” Gallagher said.
Hope isn’t always relaxed, but it is actual in helping people curlicue across many domains, including work and school. It’s galvanizing.
“Hope brings oxygen into our consciousness,” Colier said. “If we create hope, then we are inspired. We’re motivated to act because we sense that there’s possibility that the outcome that we want might happen. If we don’t have hope, where do we find motivation?”
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