Gov. Cox, Lt. Gov. Henderson order paid leave for mental health treatment, education

Gov. Spencer J. Cox signs bills. Photo: Office of the Governor

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Oct. 12, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Gov. Spencer J. Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson have issued an executive order granting all state executive branch employees four hours of administrative leave per fiscal year to address mental health issues, officials said Tuesday.

A recent CDC survey found that nearly 41 percent of respondents reported an adverse mental or behavioral health condition, such as anxiety, depression, loneliness, or increased substance use, said a news release from the Officer of the Governor.

In addition, a Society for Human Resource Management survey found that work-related concerns left more than 40 percent of employees feeling hopeless, burned out or exhausted as they grapple with lives altered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, 37 percent of employees said they haven’t done anything to cope with depression-related symptoms.

“As leaders, it is our responsibility to transform the ways we think about, talk about and address all forms of mental health challenges,” Cox said in a video message to state employees. “We all need to do better at taking care of ourselves and those around us. We need to shift the way we talk about mental health and make the appropriate care more accessible. Together we can reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.”

Henderson added: “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the importance of mental health to the fore. We hope this order will give employees permission to take time to take care of their mental health without question.”

The mental health leave benefit will be implemented on Jan. 1, 2022. In addition, state employees may use existing sick leave for preventive health care, which includes mental health care.

Read the executive order here.


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