Our social media pages recently lit up with likes, clicks, shares, and retweets, all in the name of mental health at work.
We posted a story about a woman named Madalyn who needed a couple of days off work a few weeks ago to focus on her mental health. Rather than make up a story about having a migraine or the flu, she was honest and e-mailed her co-workers saying she was taking time off for her mental health and hoped to be back refreshed and 100 percent again.
But then there was the big question mark…what would her CEO Ben say? Would he approve? Think she was lazy? Tell her to get over it and get to work?
Well, Madalyn posted his response e-mail on Twitter, it may not be what you might expect:
“I just wanted to personally thank you for sending e-mails like this,” he said. “Every time you do, I use it as a reminder of the importance of using sick days for mental health – I can’t believe this is not standard practice at all organizations. You are an example to us all, and help cut through the stigma so we can bring our whole selves to work.”
Wow. Empowering. He puts mental health on the same level as physical health, which is exactly where it belongs. Think about it: you feel a familiar little tickle in your throat, a small inkling of sinus pressure, a couple of nose drips – all signs that a cold is on the way. So, you cuddle up under a blanket, make some honey lemon tea, take a day or two off, and do what you can to rest, feel better, and prevent it from getting worse.
How is mental health any different?
Think about it: you feel a familiar fatigue, you’re irritable and grouchy, and you can’t seem to focus – all signs that you’re experiencing stress. The same blanket, tea, time off, and rest to prevent it from getting worse may help….so why do we think twice about it? Why is it that we can accept when our physical health isn’t A-1 but we balk at the thought that our mental health might need some care?
“Mental health” is not a dirty word – it’s a fact.
We all have mental health, whether or not we have a mental illness. It’s a part of what Ben called our “whole selves”. And good on Madalyn and Ben for valuing it and accepting that in order to be 100% at work as well as other parts of our lives, we need to take time to care for ourselves mentally as well as physically. Who knows – if Madalyn had gone to work on those two days, her problems may have gotten worse and she may have needed more time off. That old “ounce of prevention” adage definitely applies.
So, to Madalyn and Ben…you’re pretty cool people. Hats off to you.
Want to help your workplace learn more about mental health? Check out this video from Denis, our Community and Corporate Mental Health and Addictions Educator, talking a bit about mental health and book a training session today.
Read the whole story about Madalyn and Ben here.