This is what we’d call “boss of the year” material.
Madalyn Parker, a Michigan-based web developer at the chat software company Olark, emailed her coworkers and CEO a few weeks ago, candidly letting them know she was taking a couple days off for her mental health. Her boss was not only cool with her last-minute leave, but praised her for her honesty about working on her psychological wellbeing.
The exchange is a perfect example of what mental health support should look like in the workplace:
Parker’s tweet of the exchange went viral this week, with many users commending Olark CEO Ben Congleton for his empathy and his acknowledgement of psychological health.
Congleton’s support for mental health days isn’t just compassionate, it’s also good business practice. Data shows that serious mental illness costs the United States an estimated $193 billion in lost earnings per year. Research also shows that taking time to treat mental health issues can result in better productivity at work. And even if an employee doesn’t have a mental health disorder, taking time off for emotional wellness can have awesome perks related to work ethic.
Congleton wrote about why more companies should take mental health seriously in a post for Medium last week:
It is incredibly hard to be honest about mental health in the typical workplace. 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. I wanted to call this out and express gratitude for Madalyn’s bravery in helping us normalize mental health as a normal health issue.
Can all managers be like this?