Q. What is Mental Wellness?
A. “Mental wellness is an internal resource that helps us think, feel, connect, and function; it is an active process that helps us to build resilience, grow, and flourish.” Global Wellness Institute
Q. What is Mental wellness leave and when can I begin taking Mental Wellness leave?
A. This time is provided to allow employees an opportunity to address their mental health through stress and anxiety reducing activities.
- The new benefit is effective January 1, 2022. However, agencies may allow utilization of this benefit prior to that date providing the 4 hours of administrative leave is not exceeded in a fiscal year.
- Check with your supervisor before taking this leave to ensure taking the leave does not create a burden for your agency.
Q. What steps can I take to achieve better mental wellness?
A. Utilize the 4 hours of administrative leave (OA) each fiscal year to access the many mental health resources offered through the state’s benefit vendors and the Department of Human Services, and other mental wellness practices.
Q. What mental health resources are available to state employees and how much do they cost?
A. The employee tool kit provides several ideas about where to begin. Some highlights include Blomquist Hale, which is available at no-cost to ALL state employees-even if you are non-benefited. There are also many no cost activities offered through the Department of Human Services. For benefitted employees, most other resources are free unless otherwise noted. Find a full list here.
Q. Do unused Administrative Leave hours roll over year-to-year?
A. These hours do not rollover; they must be used in the fiscal year.
Q. Do I have to take all 4 hours of leave at once?
A. This leave can be taken in one hour increments.
Q. What rules or policies are in place for this leave?
A. Administrative leave shall be administered in accordance with DHRM Rule R477-7-7(1)(a)(iv) which says:
(1) Management may grant administrative leave to any employee consistent with agency policy for the following reasons:
(iv) other reasons consistent with agency policy;
Q. As a supervisor, where can I get more guidance and information about administering this new benefit for my employees?
A. Here are the guidelines to keep in mind when administering the Mental Wellness Administrative Leave. This time is meant to allow employees an opportunity to focus on their mental health through stress and anxiety reducing activities. Therefore, there is no need to obtain an evidentiary note or to ask the employee to provide other information.
Q. Why is the state doing this?
A. The State of Utah as an employer cares about its employees. Therefore, the state is taking a more holistic approach to its employee’s overall well-being. Adding this mental wellness benefit partners with your other great benefits that support your physical well-being, your financial well-being and future well-being.
Q. Do I need to use the time to work with mental health professionals?
A. No. You may use the time to talk with a professional either in person or virtually. You may also use the time to tune into over 100 pre-recorded webinars from Blomquist Hale, DHRM and Human Services. There are a variety of topics that may interest you. You may also elect to take part in PEHP’s Wellness activities, or choose an activity on your own that helps you relax and handle stress more effectively.
Q. How do I record this time in ESS?
A. Time is recorded in the payroll system as follows:
- Use the “OA” code for the leave type
- Double click on the cell where the OA leave is recorded and type “OA Mental Wellness Care” in the short text-box that appears. Supervisors must track their employees’ use of OA leave for these purposes as they approve it in payroll.
- Supervisors should not approve OA leave in payroll if an employee has already used four (4) hours of OA leave for mental health during the fiscal year.
Q. Where should questions be directed?
A. While the staff at your HR Field Office are not mental health professionals, they are able to direct you to professionally developed activities and assistance.
Q. Blomquist Hale wait times have been significant. Will I be able to get an appointment?
A. Yes. Blomquist Hale is aware of this new program and has been working to reduce wait times and ensure assistance is available to anyone who would like it.
Resources can be found on the Employee Gateway