This employee’s mental health day has gone viral
Madalyn Parker, a web developer for a live-chat platform called Olark, never expected the overwhelming amount of support she received after tweeting about an email exchange with her coworkers and boss. On June 30, Parker tweeted a screenshot of Olark CEO Ben Congleton’s response to her out-of-office email regarding mental health days.
When the CEO responds to your out of the office email about taking sick leave for mental health and reaffirms your decision. ? pic.twitter.com/6BvJVCJJFq
— madalyn (@madalynrose) June 30, 2017
Parker suffers from chronic depression and anxiety and informed her coworkers through email that she was taking two days off in order to focus on her mental health. Congleton responded with an unexpected yet refreshing message thanking Parker for sending the email and reminding her coworkers of the importance of breaking stigmas about mental health.
“I can’t believe this is not standard practice at all organizations,” the CEO wrote. “You are an example to us all and help cut through the stigma so we can all bring our whole selves to work.”
Parker’s tweet has since gone viral, receiving more than 45,000 favorites, 16,000 retweets and 540 responses as of July 17. Many people are expressing their joy about Congleton’s response as well as having their questions about this type of leave cleared up by others who suffer from various forms of mental illness.
This tweet has brought to light the bigger picture of the negative opinion many people have toward mental health days.
“The best way to break these stigmas is for employers to create a culture in the workplace where talking about mental health is OK,” says Dr. Sudhir Gokhale, a psychiatrist with Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill. “Supporting and being understanding of your employees’ mental health needs can show that you value their health and happiness at work. That being said, it is also critical for employers to maintain a certain degree of confidentiality with employees. Finding a suitable way to allow open communication while still upholding confidentiality is the key to fostering a safe and appropriate platform for discussing mental health in the workplace.”
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately one in five U.S. adults experience some form of mental illness in a given year.
“It is important to recognize the signs that your mental health might be slipping in order to prevent work-related stress from trickling into other aspects of your life,” says Dr. Gokhale. “If you notice that you are depressed, not socializing in the office and are not feeling like yourself, these could be signs that a mental health day might do you some good.”
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