Managing Your Mental Health on the Job

Today I did not go to my job. Shook up I was because of the subway shooting in Brooklyn on the N train. I have lived in Brooklyn for 23 years. Luckily, I was not on that train in the morning.

As it is I only ride the subway when I’m forced to and have no other option. My goal when I retire is to take cabs everywhere. If you’re a tourist and can afford to visit New York City I recommend you save money to take taxis around this town.

How does this factor into managing your mental health on the job? After arriving home last night I decided to stay home today.

As I’m typing this my cell phone beeped with an alert asking for information about the suspect. This indicates that the law enforcement individuals involved have pinpointed who they think it was that opened fire inside the second car of the N train. The shooter is no longer only “a person of interest.”

Why have I become agitated over this shooting? Most likely because of the level of cold calculated attention-to-detail that the alleged shooter used to carry out the crime.

Calling up your supervisor and telling them you can’t come to work isn’t something I take lightly. What is the right way to take time off?

First: I would not broadcast to and tell your coworkers a week before that you’re calling in sick on the following Thursday. Keep this to yourself.

Maybe what flipped this switch in my head was that coworkers have no qualms about taking what’s called a “mental health day” and calling in sick to do so.

This is the root of why I stayed home today. Before I hadn’t taken a mental health day ever. After getting shook up over yesterday’s shooting I decided it was time to take a mental health day when I needed to.

My experience having a union job is that I accrue one sick day every month. Right now, I have 50 sick days stored up in my time bank.

Since a lot of us don’t have a union job (and even for those of us who do) I advocate for becoming a worker’s right Activist. You can like I do petition for paid time off.

I’m trying to get management to give all staff who have worked here for 15 years a one-month paid sabbatical. So that we can use the time for whatever we want to do.

I’m also urging that all staff be given 4 extra time-off days per year coded as “mental health days” in addition to our regular sick time.

Plus: give us hardship pay as essential workers who showed up to our jobs throughout the pandemic.

In a future blog entry here, I would like to have a peer friend be a guest blogger. My goal is to have her talk about ways to manage symptoms you might have while at work.

Sadly, in most corporate and other office jobs you aren’t given a lot of paid sick days you can take off. Fast-food and other minimum wage earners get no paid sick time at all. Forcing them to show up in ill health to their job. Just so they can get paid.

In the 1990s I talked with the boss of a company. Thinking I might go work there.

On the telephone he told me: “It’s okay to call in sick once. If you call in sick two or three times that’s not okay.”

Huh? We are human beings. We are not machines. Our bodies are not robots. We’re not Roombas designed to figure out where to go to clean a floor. And some of us haven’t cleaned our floors in years.

Expecting that employees show up to work when we’re sick is the way to spread illness to other coworkers. It’s the guaranteed way to risk making ourselves chronically ill as well.

Joe Manchin (a Democrat) and others (Republicans like Nicole Malliotakis who I call Nicole CacaCola) are against giving American workers paid sick leave.

Manchin used the “Welfare Queen” trope to claim people who took time off would be going on a Carnival Cruise. It was reported that most of his constituents live in poverty.

What? I’m sitting at my desk typing this. After I’m done here, I will be going in bed and resting until noon. Then I’ll have breakfast. I won’t be going outside. I won’t be having fun.

My stance is that we should listen to our bodies. If our body is telling us to rest, we should rest. If our body has energy, that’s when we should take on the world.

Author: Christina Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the new book Working Assets: A Career Guide for Peers. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health.

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