Study after study has shown the personal and productivity benefits of a mental health day for employees, but the stigma still surrounds the concept in most workplaces. It’s a stigma Madalyn Parker is trying to break.
The web developer sent Twitter into a tizzy after she emailed her boss and coworkers to tell them why she would be out of the office.
“I’m taking today and tomorrow to focus on my mental health. Hopefully I’ll be back next week refreshed and back to 100% (sic),” she wrote.
The response from Parker’s CEO was so supportive she decided to share it on Twitter.
“When the CEO responds to your out of the office email about taking sick leave for mental health and reaffirms your decision,” she tweeted.
Here was the CEO’s response:
“Hey Madalyn,” CEO Ben Congleton replied. “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 can all bring our whole selves to work.”
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 tweet has since gone viral with more than 10,500 retweets and over 34,000 likes since it was posted on June 30.
Parker has struggled with anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts since childhood and after a solid six months of happiness working at her “dream job” after college, the depressive episodes started recurring, she wrote in a blog post on Medium.
“I used to be terrified about being open about my mental health,” she tweeted.
I used to be terrified about being open about my mental health https://t.co/lSuX5Eko1q— madalyn (@madalynrose) July 6, 2017
But it eventually got bad enough where she felt she needed to talk about it with her bosses — against even her own mother’s advice.
Her bosses at Olark Live Chat were receptive, though. She even worked with them to engineer a change in the company culture and rework its sick leave policy to include time for mental health days.
“I feel incredibly lucky that my personal experience has played out this way. I know that it is more the exception than the rule,” she said on Medium.
Since she’s been on a mission to end the stigma around talking about mental health and taking care of mental health — that’s why she sent the email to her team.
Twitter was overwhelmingly supportive of Parker’s advocacy, but one user wondered, “Who needs to know what kind of sick I am when I log sick leave?”
Who needs to know what kind of sick I am when I log sick leave?— Dieter Petereit (@dpetereit) July 6, 2017
“I'm specific to be an example so my team knows that they can feel comfortable taking sick leave for mental health, even if they don't say it,” Parker replied.
I'm specific to be an example so my team knows that they can feel comfortable taking sick leave for mental health, even if they don't say it— madalyn (@madalynrose) July 6, 2017