Everyone knows that mental health is important. Awareness has come a long way, with many celebrities speaking out about their own struggles with issues like anxiety and depression. But despite the fact that 1 in 5 people will experience mental illness in a given year, people often still feel ashamed or uncomfortable being open about mental health issues—especially in the workplace.
Just like physical health, sometimes your mental health can impede your ability to function, and you might need time off work. Madalyn Parker, a web developer from Ann Arbor, Michigan, did just that. She emailed her boss and coworkers to let them know that she would be out of the office for the next two days to “focus on my mental health,” and the CEO of her company responded in the best way.
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
“I just wanted to personally thank you for sending emails like this,” CEO Ben Congleton wrote in response to Parker’s email. “Every time you do, I use it as a reminder of the importance of using sick days for mental health. . .”
The tweet of the email exchange has since gone viral, with many people praising the CEO’s supportive response.
Had to do a double take to realize your boss and your company are so awesome! I wish at least half the companies on the planet were as nice
— The Zooter (@BluntBong) July 6, 2017
That is bloody incredible. What a fantastic CEO you have. I hope one day to work with a business with exactly this attitude.
— John Kearney (@JK1440) July 1, 2017
Congleton took to Medium to explain his feelings on the topic and why he responded to Parker’s email the way that he did:
“Even in the safest environment it is still uncommon to be direct with your coworkers about mental health issues,” he wrote. “I wanted to call this out and express gratitude for Madalyn’s bravery in helping us normalize mental health as a normal health issue.”
Congleton said he had no idea his response would garner the attention that it did, but after seeing the reaction on the internet, he realized that many employees are not as fortunate as his workers to have such an understanding boss.
“It’s 2017. We are in a knowledge economy. Our jobs require us to execute at peak mental performance,” Congleton wrote in his post. “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.”
Congleton encouraged other employers to follow in his footsteps and “take some time to reflect on how your company’s values help create a safe-space for your teammates.”
Let’s hope bosses around the world follow Congleton’s lead!