May 19, 2021

Taking time for mental health important, encouraged

Behavioral health pillar graphic

Mental Health Awareness Month, held each May, provides the opportunity to remind employees how important it is to rest and take time for themselves. Research has found that taking a break can be very beneficial for individuals and their work.

“Like other chronic conditions, mental illness directly impacts the individual and the University with reduced productivity, increased health care costs and reduced attendance at work,” says Candace Shaffer, senior director of benefits in Human Resources."

Taking “mental health” days throughout the year when needed can help.

“I highly encourage and support using sick time to take care of any mental health needs or concerns,” says Bill Bell, vice president for human resources. “Individuals are accustomed to taking days off for physical illness, but the need to continue shifting that conversation to also include mental health needs is still present. Purdue University cares about the overall well-being of its faculty and staff, and mental health is absolutely included.”

In fact, Purdue’s Healthy Boiler Program focuses on behavioral health as one of its five pillars, and it advocates for integrated care programs that focus on behavioral health and community support. Mental health parity and addiction equity – which all of Purdue’s health plans have – mandates that the health plan must treat mental health and addiction conditions the same as a medical condition.

“Purdue’s health plan coverage for mental health conditions and substance use disorders includes medication, office visits, testing, in-patient and outpatient treatment,” Shaffer says. “And taking time off to advocate for yourself and your mental health is one reason we have sick time to utilize.”

Stress is a common factor for the majority of individuals these days, but choosing the right time to take a mental health day or two can be puzzling.

“Everyone needs a mental health day to de-stress and recharge from time to time,” says Amanda Hathcock, employee assistance counselor at the Center for Healthy Living on Purdue’s West Lafayette campus. “It can’t be said enough that our mental health is just as important to our daily lives and our work lives as our physical health. So on the days when you wake up with extreme stress, anxiety or if you’re especially down to the point you know it’s going to affect your ability to concentrate and function, this is when I recommend you consider taking the day off.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), problems with mental health are very common in the United States — an estimated 50 percent of all Americans are diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime. The CDC adds that mental illnesses, such as depression, are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for those ages 18 to 44.





Behavioral health resources available for faculty, staff, students  

Behavioral health – one of the five pillars of the Healthy Boiler Program – plays a key role in overall employee well-being. In an effort to help Purdue employees manage stress, anxiety and more, see the Mental Health Resources webpage for a variety of available resources.

Faculty and staff who work with students or have a student at home can direct students to the resources below for behavioral health assistance. Note: LiveHealth Online Psychology and LiveHealth Online Psychiatry services are also available to Purdue students who are covered on a Purdue Graduate Student or Student Health Plan. Mental health visits through LiveHealth Online are covered at 100 percent on the Purdue student health plan.   

Office of the Dean of Students

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)


Faculty-Staff News

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