CEO's Response to Mental Health Time-Off Request Draws Praise

July 12, 2017
Madalyn Parker, Olark Live Chat web developer, requested two days off to work on her mental health. Company CEO Ben Congleton's response to her message has been shared thousands of times.

Depression and mental health disorders rank in the top three most expensive and most common issues among employees, costing employers more than $100 billion in lost productivity annually, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Despite an estimated one in five adults living with a diagnosed mental health condition, at least half of employers in the United States are not doing enough to consider worker health, according to a Randstad report.

On June 30, one CEO’s response to an employee’s request for time off due to mental health reasons was shared thousands of time on social media platforms.

Madalyn Parker, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based web developer at Olark Live Chat, sent the following e-mail to CEO Ben Congleton:

“I’m taking today and tomorrow to focus on my mental health. Hopefully I’ll be back next week refreshed and back to 100%.”

Congleton responded to Parker, praising her for using personal days for mental health and questioning why mental health leave is not more common.

“I can’t believe this is not standard practice at all organizations,” he wrote in the publicly-shared message. “You are an example to us all, and help cut through the stigma so we can all bring our whole selves to work.”

In a 2015 blog post, Parker detailed her struggles with anxiety and how mental health personally affects her work productivity. The exchange between Congleton and Parker can be viewed on Twitter.

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