SAP Offers Paid Mental Health Day to Combat Depression

March 15, 20215:00 pm1353 views

Working from home initiative has made the already thin line between work and life balance become even more blured. In an era where sending an email at midnight is seen as a sign of dedicated workaholic, poor mental health among employees is apparent. Addressing mental health concerns, software corporation SAP decided to implement a paid global mental health day for its thousands of employees this year.

SAP’s Mental Health Day, a company-sponsored global holiday for all employees, is scheduled for April 27. The company takes the move after discovering that one-third of its employees have stress levels that are higher than their satisfaction level, 61 percent also said that they’re working slightly above capacity. SAP North America President DJ Paoni emphasised that it is not just another day off. “It’s a clear message from the company that it’s okay to relax. Healthier employees mean happier customers, so there is a business benefit in the long run.”

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, people are struggling to juggle work and family responsibilities with no respite. Social distancing, lockdowns, and the new virtual world of work have negatively impacted people’s mental health and even led to depression. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that depression interferes with a person’s ability to complete physical job tasks about 20 percent of the time and reduces cognitive performance about 35 percent of the time.

See also: High Workload is Top Cause of Poor Mental Health for Employees Across Asia: Survey

Social distancing, lockdowns and remote work have all negatively impacted people’s mental health and interfered with their lives and the way they work. Depression can hinder a person’s ability to perform job tasks 20% of the time and reduces cognitive performance about 35% of the time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Natalie Lotzmann, chief medical officer at SAP, confirms that there has been an increase in mental health issues during COVID-19. Reports from SAP’s global EAP show a 28 percent increase in calls in 2020. While mental health issues are common – one out of four Americans ages 18 and older suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder every year, according to the Johns Hopkins Medical Institute – there is still a societal stigma around seeking help.

“Stigma usually stems from a lack of understanding or fear of the unknown. The fact that people don’t talk about the problem makes it harder to understand,” says Lotzmann. She adds that the best way to remove stigma is to encourage people to share their experiences, providing employees with the strength and courage to reach out for help. Sharing experiences will also help showcase the support and positive culture that exists within the company.

Read also: World Mental Health Day: Social Media Affecting Gen Z’s Wellbeing amid Covid-19

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