Most employees are assigned a certain number of sick days throughout the year—and it's safe to assume that it's acceptable to use those days to care for a physical illness, like a cold or the flu. Unfortunately, when you're not feeling well mentally—whether that's because of depression, anxiety, or something else—we aren't assigned any days off. And that's something that needs to change.
One employee is bringing light to this issue by showing the importance of asking for sick days to take care of your mental health. In a recent tweet, Madalyn Parker, a web developer at Olark, shared an email interaction she had with her boss after asking for the day off. "I'm taking today and tomorrow off to focus on my mental health," Madalyn wrote in an email to her team. "Hopefully I'll be back next week refreshed and at 100%."
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
The company' CEO, Ben Congleton, responded: "I just want to personally thank you for sending emails like this," he said. "Every time you do, I use it as a reminder of the importance of using sick days to for mental health."
Congleton continued by saying that he still can't believe mental health days aren't a standard practice at all organizations. And that it's thanks to people like Madalyn that we're inching closer to breaking the stigma surrounding this issue. (Related: Facebook and Twitter Are Rolling Out New Features To Protect Your Mental Health)
Since tweeting the screen grab of the emails, Madalyn's tweet has been shared over 10,000 times. While several people shared how much they appreciated to see such a positive interaction, others opened up about how their personal experience with the problem was completely the opposite.
I took a mental health afternoon at my last job and got passive aggressive documentation about the mental health coverage in our health plan
— Janie Clayton (@RedQueenCoder) July 1, 2017
"I took a mental health afternoon at my last job and got passive aggressive documentation about the mental health coverage in our health plan," one user wrote. "I left a mental health charity once because HR wanted to know in advance when I'd have a panic attack," said another. (Related: What Getting Fired Taught Me About Mental Health)
Any jobs going where you work? So rare. I left a mental health charity once bc HR wanted to know in advance when I'd have a panic attack
— mollywallop (@mollywallop) July 6, 2017
Considering the overwhelming response to Madalyn's tweet, Congleton decided to write an essay about the whole situation and shared it on his LinkedIn. "It is incredibly hard, to be honest about mental health in the typical workplace," he wrote. "Even in the safest environment, it is still uncommon to be direct with your co-workers about mental health issues."
"It's 2017. We are in a knowledge economy. Our jobs require us to execute at peak mental performance. When an athlete is injured they sit on the bench and recover. Let's get rid of the idea that somehow the brain is different."