11 Julio 2017 15:00
Fighting the mental health stigma one email at a timeIt’s perfectly normal to pick up the phone and ring your boss when something you ate gave you food poisoning, or the cold weather has given you a nasty cough, but what’s the protocol when it comes to our mental health?
One US woman decided evading the issue won't work and called time on our antiquated way of approaching mental health issues at work. Madalyn Parker, a web developer, emailed her co-workers to tell them that she was taking two days off to focus on her mental health, and she was shocked by her boss’s loving and supportive reply.
Parker wrote in the email: ‘Hey team, I’m taking today and tomorrow to focus on my mental health. Hopefully I’ll be back next week refreshed and back to 100%.’ To which the CEO of the company, named as Ben Congleton, responded with a heroic message of encouragement. He said: ‘I just wanted to personally thank you for sending emails like this. Every time you do, I use it as a reminder of the importance of using sick days for mental health - I can’t believe this is not standard practice at all organizations. You are an example to us all, and help cut through the stigma so we call all bring our whole selves to work.’ Why can’t all bosses be so compassionate?
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
Increased awareness of mental health struggles has no doubt had an extremely positive effect on societal acceptance. But, psychological illness is still not taken as seriously as physical in the workplace and beyond. How many of us have wanted to stay in bed, pull the curtains and take a day of self-care when anxiety or depression rears its ugly head? Instead, though, most of us don our best brave face and head to the office, pretending we feel ‘fine, just fine’.Shortly after tweeting a screenshot of the email exchange, Parker's post went viral, touching the hearts of social media users around the world. Her tweet now has over 32,000 likes and 9,800 retweets, clearly striking a chord with other mental health sufferers.
Some people were envious of the response and confessed to wishing their workplace was the same.
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
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
health day recently and lie about my reasoning for not coming in, because it's not seen as a viable excuse for missing work.
— Miranda ? (@movntainwoman) July 11, 2017
Others were somewhat confused as to why mental health days are needed, but Madalyn schooled them on the importance of psychological self-care.
Not sure about what's really important though. Personal (mental) health, or ability to work ?
— override lazy val (@ValentinKasas) June 30, 2017
Congleton, the CEO, has been astounded by the global response, taking to Medium to write a formal reflection about the viral events. "I wasn’t expecting the exposure, but I am so glad I was able to have such a positive impact on so many people," he explained. "There were so many stories of people wishing they worked at a place where their CEO cared about their health, and so many people congratulating me on doing such a good thing. It’s 2017. I cannot believe that it is still controversial to speak about mental health in the workplace when 1 in 6 americans are medicated for mental health.’ What a guy!
But *vacations* are for mental health too. So then really what's difference btwn sick leave & vacation leave? Could be just 1 leave policy
— Andrew Cohen (@acohenNY) July 1, 2017