The workplace can be a merciless world. Regardless of where you work or what you do, you’re bound to get stressed out. It’s only natural to want to escape it all and take a day off. Unfortunately, taking a day off typically requires a sore throat, projectile vomiting, or a forged doctor’s note.
Our mental health is often ignored or written off as whining or complaining. In reality, employee depression has been on the rise in recent years. Mental health days are perfect for times like this, but many employers are against it.
Meet Madalyn Parker, a web developer at Olark Live Chat. She suffers from chronic depression and anxiety, however, she did not let it stop her from requesting a mental break from work. At this point in the story, I’m sure you’re expecting her boss to threaten termination if she didn’t provide a doctor’s note. Lucky for us, this tale has a happier ending.
After explaining to her co-workers about why she needed some days off, Parker received a surprising response from Ben Congleton, the CEO of Olark.
After requesting the days off, Congleton wrote back to Parker:
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.
Someone give this man an award.
Parker later shared the response on her Twitter page, which quickly gained supportive comments from users. It turns out that Parker isn’t the only one that requests mental health days at work, however, not everyone’s boss is as understanding as hers. Some users reported their own experiences with needing mental health days and how they cope with work-related stress.
If you thought the story ends there, you’d be pleasantly mistaken. Following the overwhelming support and love from others, Congleton later wrote a blog post for Medium.com to speak out against mental health discrimination and lack of communication in the workplace. He wrote:
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.
It’s 2017. I cannot believe that it is still controversial to offer paid sick leave. Did you know that only 73% of full time employees in the US have paid sick leave?
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.
It’s 2017, people. Let’s make the most of it.