There are days where it’s just impossible to go to work. Days when everything is overwhelming and all you need is some time off to de-stress and recharge before getting back to the flow. However, depending on where you are and where you work, taking care of your mental health can cost you money or your job, or at least it can cause you guilt.
Luckily, employees of Changzhou's Dinosaur Park Cultural Tourism Group, a company based in China, no longer have to fake the flu or make up other stupid excuses whenever they’re feeling a little down in the dumps. The company’s "mood day" policy allows employees to take one day off, once a month, no questions asked. All they need to do is call in, and they don't have to worry about a salary cut.
Essentially, the "mood day" is what other workplaces call a mental health day, where employees can request for a day off work due to stress or personal matters. The company’s already put the policy in place for three years but it has only recently gained traction on Chinese media sites, when job-seeking millennials found out about the policy and were tempted by the promise of a better work-life balance. Since it’s rare to find a company that encourages employees to take a paid mental health day in China, reports say that the company’s become the subject of envy of many young workers.
Now can other companies worldwide take note?
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China is one of several Asian countries notorious for its long working hours and toxic working culture. In Japan, people have had died from being overworked so often that they even have a term for the phenomenon, karoshi. And at least one man had his head dunked in a boiling pot at a restaurant by a boss. Meanwhile, in South Korea, police reports show that more than 500 in the country in 2018 were caused by work-related pressure.
In 2013, in an effort to promote the well-being of the public, the Chinese government introduced the Mental Health Law of the People’s Republic of China, the country’s first mental health related law. It was a big step, considering that mental health issues are taboo here.
However, the law doesn’t seem to have much effect on workplaces. While country’s labor law states that workers should not work more than eight hours a day and that anything more than this should be classed as overtime, a survey in 2017 by consulting firm Kantar Health, found that more than 40 percent of respondents worked longer than 50 hours a week for no extra compensation. From those 40 percent, half of them experience anxiety.
Obviously, mental health issues aren't something that can be simply solved by taking a day off at work. But as employees, we can only take this gesture a sign of progress and hope that we'll see more places adopt the same policy in our lifetime.