I can count on my hands the number of sick days I’ve taken in my working life of 15 years. And I don’t even need my fingers to count how many mental health days I’ve taken — because it’s zero.
The same goes for my colleagues. I don’t know anyone who has openly taken a mental health day off work, despite many of them desperately needing to. Let’s remember: one-in-five Australians experience mental health disorders. That’s 20% of us — nearly four million people.
Regardless of the wide-spread prevalence, there’s this notion in Australia that calling in sick – especially for mental health issues — is lazy, weak, a piss-take.Sick days aren’t seen as an entitlement, they’re considered a nuisance, office gossip fodder and, in some cases, a step towards the unemployment line.
And so, instead of taking time off work to look after our physical and mental health, we work ourselves to the bone, develop a weird stress rash and end up crying in an office toilet stall (no, just me?).