Despite massive efforts in recent years to put a human face on mental health conditions – to bring them out of the shadows, talk about them openly, and discuss options for healthy management – there remains a stigma that seems to come with admitting that you need help. We’re made to feel somehow weak if we need medication, or to talk with someone about our problems, or, hell, if we just need to feel crappy for a day or two while we work things out, take a deep breath, and then get back in the game.
And in case you weren’t aware, there’s not much that Americans loathe more than showing weakness.
The thing is, asking for help isn’t weak. Knowing yourself well enough to acknowledge when you can’t do it alone isn’t weak. Wanting to be your best self, whether for your job, your family, your friends, or just your damn self? That’s brave.
We still have a long way to go in breaking the stigma that surrounds mental health issues, so I imagine that when web developer Madalyn Parker emailed her boss to inform him that she was going to use a sick day to address her mental health, she wondered what sort of response she would receive.
Here’s her very professional email:
Her boss’ response (below) impressed her so much that she tweeted the entire exchange, just to show how happy she is to be working for a company that recognizes the importance of mental health.
Plenty of people responded to the tweets, some with tales of how they were treated when asking for the same sort of accommodation at their own job:
Others, though, wondered why it was her boss’ business how she wanted to use her sick time. To which Madalyn calmly responded that her health is more important than any job, and that it is not any more shameful to use sick leave to get a handle on her depression and anxiety than it is to call out for the flu.
And as for her boss? He’s surprised that so many people are giving him props for what he believes should be a standard response to the request.
I wasn’t expecting the exposure, but I am so glad I was able to have such a positive impact on so many people. 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. It’s 2017. I cannot believe that it is still controversial to speak about mental health in the workplace when 1 in 6 Americans [referencing this study] are medicated for mental health.
We might not all work for the most understanding bosses in the world, but we can hope that, with each positive response like this one, the tide will start to turn. That we’ll all be not only more understanding, but more accepting of people’s need to take care of themselves – body and mind – in order to bring their best selves into the workplace on a daily basis.
We think you might like these other articles from Did You Know!