Boss’ Brilliant Response To Employee Asking For Mental Health Day
Smarter Reviews examines how taking a mental health break benefits employees and employers
Every boss is familiar with their employee requesting time off for a cold, the flu, or some other physical ailment. What is not expected is a request for a mental health day. Jobs can be frustrating, demanding, and do not always provide the best work environment. Employees know the reality of this all too well, and understand the need for a day off, for the sake of their sanity.
Stress, anxiety, and even depression can develop from work-related issues. Sometimes personal and professional lives collide and stress can rise to overwhelming levels. While this is understood among the working community, many employers may not understand or agree with this need for sanity to be classified as a reason to take a sick day, or that lack of sanity can lead to illness. A now viral sensation on this very topic has caused quite a stir and is bringing much-needed attention to this very serious issue.
When an Olark web developer, Madalyn Parker, distributed an out of office message informing her team that she would be absent for two days to "refresh and refocus her mind" the response from her boss surprised the world. Many people forget that just like healing from a physical illness or disease, mental illness requires treatment. An employee would never be barred from going to a doctor appointment or leaving work early because of the flu and the same protocol should be in place for illnesses relating to the mind.
Corporate culture adds a stigma to depression and anxiety which seems strange given that the majority of jobs and careers require peak mental performance. It would seem logical that a company would understand that their employees may need to recuperate from the daily stresses of work and life. Sometimes the weekends just don’t cut it because they are usually jam packed with errands and events for children and family. There is no time to decompress and let your mind truly rest.
Madalyn’s boss responded to the out of office message with a supportive and endearing message. The general sentiment being "thank you" for reminding everyone how important it is to acknowledge and respect mental illness. He concluded that using sick days for mental reset and repair should be a standard practice for all organizations. The concept of removing the stigma associated with mental illness at work is a positive and motivational message.
This employee's email and her boss' response has created a stir in the electronic world and is certainly being discussed around water coolers in many workplaces. Of course Madalyn and her boss did not expect this response, but the reaction will have real and lasting effects. It is going to force people to rethink current organizational cultures at an individual level.
Employees, so often, are forced lie about absences out of fear they are not providing a ‘valid’ reason for the time off or under threat of docked pay. It is no longer acceptable that employees should fear losing wages because they are taking care of their mental health.
The truth is that without these mental health days, employees and people in general, run the risk of making their symptoms worse which can cause greater impairment. this in turn leads to prolonged work absences and more debilitating mental ailment leaving employer and employee both at a disadvantage.
So, let's all agree that we don't need to tell our boss that our cousin twice-removed's cat died, so we can take a mental health day. Let's agree to call it what it is for the sake of all our sanity because awareness begins with our words, then our actions, and the boss heard around the world is certainly a step in the right direction.
Tom is a lifelong nutrition enthusiast who recently retired from his career in pharmacology to write about natural health. When he isn't researching health products, Tom enjoys exploring local farmers markets and growing his own organic vegetables.