Madalyn's explanation for her day off work has started an important conversation.

When Madalyn Parker called in sick for work, she received a surprising response from her boss.

Parker, a web developer, sent an email to her team letting them know she was taking two days off to focus on her mental health.

“Hey team,” she began her email. “I’m taking today and tomorrow to focus on my mental health. Hopefully I’ll be back next week refreshed and back to 100%.”

Shortly after she sent the email, the company’s CEO responded – thanking Parker for sending it.

“I just want to thank you personally for sending emails like this,” he wrote.

“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 organisations.”

“You are an example to all of us, and help cut through the stigma so we can all bring our whole selves to work.”

When Parker posted the exchange on Twitter, many were envious of her forward-thinking workplace.


However, not everybody who’s called in sick for mental health reasons has received such a positive response from their boss.

Last month, when NSW doctor-in-training Roly Stokes took a day off work, his colleagues called him “weak”.

“I neglected 30 sick patients on Tuesday and ‘chucked a sicky’ to finish building this desk. It was one of the best things I have done all year,” Dr Stokes wrote in a Facebook post.

“My senior doctors overtly and covertly said I was weak for taking a day off without explicit physical symptoms of illness. I’m proposing this is representative of the culture that needs to change to prevent young doctors’ suicides, however; I don’t blame them.”

mental health day
"My batteries were flat from months of overtime and very emotionally full days." Image via iStock.

Dr Stokes said his "batteries were flat" after months of overtime and emotionally charged days and he's now challenging his colleagues to be "brave in the face of this old culture".

"The hospital doesn't care if you aren't there. The day will proceed. The sick patients will be seen. The well ones don't need to be. The covering people will prefer you absent one day than forever," he wrote.

"I'm really writing this to the one or two of my mates, or their mates, who err on the side of looking after the hospital before themselves, and one day forget who they are, and why life is vibrant."

Dr Stokes finished off his post by urging his friends to "take the sickie early".

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While some workplaces and industries are lagging behind, many others view mental health and the wellbeing of their employees as a very important priority.

Liz Short, Head of People and Operations at Mamamia, said you should definitely be able to take time off work to look after your mental health.

"Mental health is as important as physical health - so yes you can call in sick - and I'm definitely supportive if people need to do that," she said.

"We want people at work at their best - so if this means taking a mental break, then they should do it."

Have you ever taken a mental health day?

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