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Taking a Mental Health Day: Changing Attitudes in the Workplace

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July 26, 2017, News

An American Psychological Association survey in 2016 found less than half of working Americans say the climate in their workplace support employee well-being.

Madalyn Parker, 26, sent an email to her team at work saying she’d be out of office for a few days to focus on her mental health. The response she received from her company’s CEO has sparked a larger discussion about what is a rarely-talked topic in the workplace.

Parker is a software developer for Olark, a Michigan-based live-chat platform that helps businesses talk to customers. It has a staff of about 40. She suffers from chronic anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
 
“I had experienced several nights of insomnia and was poorly rested and also having lots of suicidal thoughts, which make it difficult to accomplish much at work,” she told CNN.
 
She sent an email to her team that said: “Hey team, I’m taking today and tomorrow to focus on my mental health. Hopefully, I’ll be back next week refreshed and back to 100%.”
 
The next day, she opened her inbox to find a flood of response. But one that caught her eye was from company CEO Ben Congleton.
 
“I can’t believe this is not a standard practice at all organizations,” read part of his email. “You are an example to us all, and help cut through the stigma so we can all bring our whole selves to work.”
 
Parker posted the exchange online. “I thought the internet should see what a good example he’s setting,” she said. Ever since, she’s been flooded with messages telling her just how great her boss must be. 
 
Congleton, the boss, said that as he read through the comments on the email chain, he started to get emotional. He realized it was time to make a change.
 
“I think there’s a lot of people out there that don’t really understand what mental health is. I feel sorry for them,” he told CNN. “Mental health (is) just as important as physical health in these situations. There’s this misconception that you can leave part of yourself home when you go to work,” Congleton told CNN. “(But) some personal stuff is gonna hang in there and hold on.”
 
Read the full story on CNN.
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