Taking a sick day for mental health reasons is still one of those things a lot of us feel weirdly guilty about.
When we’re having a rough one mentally in the workplace and need to tap out, it’s easier to feign a headache than let spill what’s really going on.
If you are honest about your depression, or anxiety, or whatever, there’s this idea that you might be seen as weak. Your boss might tell you to toughen up and get on with it. Because there is still stigma around mental illness, especially at work. Matters of the mind are often not treated with the same legitimacy as say, a broken arm.
That’s why when someone takes a stand, and is real about what’s going on, it makes international headlines.
Madalyn Parker, a web developer at software company Olark over in the US, sent around an email to her workmates explaining that she was taking two days off work for mental health reasons.
“I’m taking today and tomorrow to focus on my mental health. Hopefully I’ll be back next week refreshed and back to 100%,” she wrote in the email, which she posted on Twitter.
The CEO of the company, Ben Congleton, replied with words of support, thanking her for being honest and open about her days off:
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 went proper viral, with almost 40,000 retweets.
In repsonse, Congleton penned apiece on Medium, titled ‘It’s 2017 and Mental Health is still an issue in the workplace.’
“It is incredibly hard to be honest about mental health in the typical workplace,” he wrote.
“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.”
“It’s 2017,” he continued. “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.”
Too right. Take care of your brain, folks. They need rest too.
If you or someone you know is in need of support, please call BeyondBlue on 1300 22 4636 for 24/7 counselling, or Lifeline on 13 11 12. For emergency crisis support, contact 000 immediately.