Woman takes mental health days; boss' reply goes viral


Of all the employee-employer emails that get shared online, a recent one between Madalyn Parker, a web developer in the USA, and her company CEO is going viral across the world for all the right reasons.The story of Madalyn mentioning that she would be taking few days off from work to focus on her mental health, and the CEO writing back that such conversations were a key in cutting through the stigma, has got organisations and professionals worldwide thinking about mental health.

When software developer Madalyn Parker emailed her co-workers to say that she would miss a couple days of work to focus on her mental health, her tech firm's CEO responded to thank her for her transparency and openness.

Olark CEO Ben Congleton said he's surprised more CEOs don't recognize mental illness as a condition that warrants taking time off from work.

So rather than make Parker feel guilty for taking too much time off, the CEO of her company, Ben Congleton, praised her instead. Take a look at her tweet here. But those who do - even if they don't worry about the stigma of mental illness - often don't use all their time off, whether because of job insecurity, a crushing workload or an expectation to work even when people should be home in bed. The email highlights the fact that there is still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health, especially in the workplace, and that talking about it is an important step in getting better.

In an interview, Congleton said, "I think the biggest lesson to take away from this really is that mental health is health and that mental illness is a big deal".

He told the magazine that "so many people live in fear of disclosing mental health issues at work". In a separate post, Congleton expressed his frustration that mental health is still stigmatized both in and outside of work.

Neither Parker nor Congleton had any idea that their exchange would garner such a response. 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 in all organisations.

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Another wrote, "This is great!"

"Wow, I wish! I needed a medical health stay once. Upon my return, my boss told me not to let it happen again or my job would be gone". "I feel sorry for them", he told CNN. "This is not something new".

Congleton's show of support for his employee is something many do not receive in their workplace.

One such person who is suffering from mental health issues and didn't hesitate to own up to it is Madalyn Parker.

"This is wonderful", Sandberg wrote.

"This is wonderful. Thankful to Madalyn for being so open - it's not an easy thing to do". "When an athlete is injured they sit on the bench and recover".