There’s been a lot of progress in removing the stigma around mental health, but there’s still much work to be done—especially when it comes to the workplace. Chances are you wouldn’t think twice about taking a day off if you had the flu but would probably be a lot more hesitant to call in sick because of mental health issues.
A now-viral tweet from Madalyn Parker, a web developer in Michigan, has sparked a much-needed discussion about this very topic. She tweeted a screenshot of her message along with her boss’s response, writing: “When the CEO responds to your out of the office email about taking sick leave for mental health and reaffirms your decision.”
There are so many things to love about this. First of all, it can be incredibly hard to be up front with your coworkers about mental health, so props to Madalyn. Second, Ben Congleton, the CEO of the company, had the best response. “I just wanted to personally thank you for sending emails like this,” he wrote. “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.”
It’s important for us all to remember that mental health is just as important as physical health, and we need take care of our entire selves.
Since Madalyn’s tweet went viral, Ben wrote a post on Medium where he further proves himself worthy of that World’s Best Boss mug. In it, he says, “It is incredibly hard to be honest about mental health in the typical workplace. In situations like this, it is so easy to tell your teammates you are ‘not feeling well.’ Even in the safest environment it is still uncommon to be direct with your coworkers about mental health issues.”
He continues: “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. … 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.” Preach, Ben, preach.