Why these companies are giving employees a mental health break

Why these companies are giving employees a mental health break

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It’s part of a one-day campaign called “National Mental Health Break,” which was launched by Shine — a startup best known for its daily text-message service designed to address negative thought patterns. The company wants to raise awareness about mental health in the workplace and encourage more companies to have ongoing dialogues with employees about mental health days so they aren’t viewed as taboo.

On May 15, participating employers will have a mental health break for staff at 3 p.m. local time, or allow employees to take time to themselves at any point throughout the day.

Some companies have organized group meditations while other firms will allow workers to go home several hours early. Some have agreed to review their mental-health day policies as part of the effort. The hope is to begin to normalize taking a mental health break from work, at a time when its easier than ever to stay in constant contact with colleagues via Slack, email and text.

Shine has recruited a host of companies and organizations including GIF-search engine firm Giphy, dog food delivery startup Ollie and HR services startup Justworks to participate in the campaign.

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“How can we create a moment where companies are encouraging conversations around mental health?” Shine cofounder Marah Lidey told CNN Business. “Everyone is talking about self-care, but no one is talking about mental health at work.”

Lidey and cofounder Naomi Hirabayashi said they recently conducted a survey of more than 1,770 Shine users. The pair said they found that while most participants reported they had thought about taking a mental health day at work, just a portion of them felt comfortable asking for that time off.

The duo said few companies actually have policies for taking mental health days.

This is the first big campaign Shine has done around mental health awareness, and it takes place during Mental Health Awareness Month. The company, which launched about three years ago and has raised $8 million in funding, has about 4 million users around the world. Shine sends users daily texts offering affirmation, inspiration and motivation in a conversational tone. The company launched an app last year that offers more personalized content such as audio meditations.

“The cost of not doing anything is so much greater. Why is mental health so sticky and uncomfortable?” said Hirabayashi, who added that needing a mental health break “is the most universal and human thing.”

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