Mental health is hardly given any thought in the professional life, if at all. Most people would freely request for a sick leave to get over their viral fever or their indigestion. But hardly anyone dares taking a sick leave for mental health reasons, given the stigma and the fear of judgment around the whole topic.
An American woman and her boss have become unintentional heroes in the mental health community’s fight against stigma.
On 30th June, web developer Madalyn Parker tweeted this email exchange with her boss who also happens to the CEO of the company, Olark.
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
To say that the tweet went viral would be an understatement. At the time of writing this article, the tweet had received over 35000 likes and 11000 shares.
More importantly though, it touches upon the very important issue of workplace sensitisation to mental health issues, and of course breaking the stigma of mental health.
Ben Congleton, the CEO in question was left stunned by the overwhelming support of his email response :
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 almost impossible to imagine something like this happening here in India where over 42% corporate employees are known to suffer from Depression, and sensitisation training is so low that even an IT employee of a major MNC is asked to quit by 10 AM next morning for “cost optimisation”, or else be fired.
You’re made to feel so silly and guilty if you ever request a sick leave for mental health purposes, that is if you even muster the courage to make the request. Mental health insurance is non-existent, although there are hopes that the ambitious Mental Healthcare Bill, 2016 may change that, for now, it still seems like a distant dream.
It’s high time that we started seeing a similar, more appropriate attitude towards mental health in our country, don’t you think?
To quote Mr. Congleton :
It’s 2017. I cannot believe that it is still controversial to speak about mental health in the workplace
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