This employee’s mental health day has gone viral

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.

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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  1. Employers who really value their employees Mental Health should consider incorporation of 3 -4 Mental Health days for employees to utilize at their discretion in a given year. People need to reenergize themselves sometimes and it’s not always with a vacation day. The PTO bank is highly overrated. Nowadays people are so reluctant to take days off because you have to use that dreaded PTO bank for everything (holidays, vacation, sick time, personal time) . If you call in sick you might not have enough to cover the holidays and vacation. If you take a MH day you feel like you just blew potential vacation time. It would be different if the actual accrual rates were higher but they really are not high enough to cover all that is expected of them.

    • I 100% agree with you. Especially being a full-time working mother, we have to keep track of our “dreaded PTO bank” to make sure that we are able to take those vacations and time off to spend with our family, but not take too much sick time to stay home with our children if we still want to take that vacation time. I think for someone to say it is a treat to have vacation time is ridiculous, yes your right but life to me is not about “working your life away.” The importance is your mental health, if you don’t have your sanity how are you supposed to perform to the best of your ability at work and raise a family all while enjoying the simple things. These people below have it twisted. I think what this woman did and her bosses response is great. And I couldn’t agree with Sherri more!

  2. These are the types of e-mail that drive small business owners over the edge. PTO days are a benefit and are there for vacation, personal and sick days. Additional sick days specifically labeled as mental health days are not needed nor practical. How about cramp days, I stubbed my toe days or my back aches from mowing the lawn days? Mental health is an illness and should be treated as a sick day. While I’m concerned with the overall lack of mental health care in the U.S. it is NOT the employers responsibility. Despite what rumors circle around the work place, business owners are NOT rich, we don’t own private planes, yachts or have vacation homes in the Caribbean. Just like the employees we are struggling to make ends meet and are being suffocated by red tape, extortionate health insurance costs and all the other overheads we have to pay to stay in business. This line of thinking is exactly why businesses are not investing into their employees. Please, government stay out of our businesses and let market competition dictate minimum wage and benefits before you destroy more businesses and jobs..

  3. I suffer with the issues of bi-polar 2 but agree with E. Bennett. Mental health issues are a sickness and should be treated as such in every way. One would not stigmatize a person for staying home after suffering a seizure from low blood sugar associated with an issue with the management diabetes and one should not be stigmatized for needing a day to adjust a medication to deal with depression, mania or whatever. Still, sick days are sick days and you just might have to take a potential vacation day for those issues, that’s how it is when you are trying to manage a chronic illness, along with the other inconveniences (at best) and severe trials.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.