We’re still a long way from emotional well-being to be taken as seriously as physical health, which is why when many of us would never even think of taking time off from work to focus on our mental health.
One woman took the plunge and did just that. In an email titled “Where’s Madalyn?”, web developer and engineer Madalyn Parker sent an open email to her colleagues that read, “I’m taking today and tomorrow to focus on my mental health. Hopefully I’ll be back next week refreshed and back to 100%.”
It was brief, but more than enough of an explanation. And soon afterwards, her boss Ben Congleton got back to her in the way that any boss should. His response was brilliant.
“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,” he wrote. “I can’t believe this is not standard practice at all organisations.” He continued, “You are an example to us all, and help cut through the stigma so we can bring our whole selves to work.”
Since the post kicked off, Ben expanded on his thoughts about mental health and work in a Medium post titled ‘It’s 2017 and Mental Health is still an issue in the workplace’. “I had no idea my response would become so visible — the reactions revealed that my stance on mental health in the workplace is unconventional, to say the least,” he wrote.
“I started realising how impactful my email had been after I began reading some of the responses to Madalyn’s tweet. Some of the responses brought tears to my eyes.”
“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,” he added. “This should be business as usual. We have a lot of work to do.”
And Ben is right; we still do have a lot of work to do.