We all have mental health

When Maddalyn Parker tweeted her CEO’s reaction to her out-of-office, a lot of people sat up and took notice.

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The message was brief and simple.

4 short lines to be exact.

She told her colleagues that she was taking a day off to focus on her mental health, and that she hoped to be back the following week feeling refreshed, and back to 100% (I don’t think I’m ever 100%!).

Her CEO wasn’t just incredibly compassionate in his response. Uh uh.
He thanked her for her straight-up courage.

I don’t doubt for one minute that typing and sending that message didn’t come with feelings of apprehension. But it was said in a way that casually communicated to the world, “my employer gets it, and it’s not a big deal here”.

And hey, that’s how it should be for all organisations, right?

You: ‘Ha. You kiddin’?’
Me: ‘I know… I hear you.’

*crashes back down to reality*

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You don’t need me to point and wave at the fact that Maddalyn’s situation is as far away from the norm as Shetland is from the Isles of Scilly (road trip anyone?). However, it really does feel like a little bit of positive change takes place with every passing scenario that mirrors Maddalyn’s.

In 2012, mental health was given equal priority to physical health meaning statutory sick pay covers both, and a doctor’s note isn’t necessary unless you’ve been sick for more than seven consecutive days.

But we all know that discussing your cajun-chicken related food poisoning isn’t quite the same as sharing, ‘my stress level is reaching a fearsome and unmanageable point, I need support’.

It’s happened to me in a previous pressurised position. I woke up feeling downtrodden…that I’d given too much of myself…and unhelpfully left every inch of self-care at the door. I was utterly disappointed that I’d allowed things to go (several!) steps too far.

And that morning, I felt unable to function for the duration of the working day. What did I do? I called in to say I had a cold because disclosing that the problem was in my head, and not in my respiratory tract didn’t even cross my muddled mind. And sometimes the truth in a world with stigma demands more energy than we have.

Maddalyn showed us that the little, ‘compose new tweet’ box on Twitter can be a window of opportunity.

In just 140 characters, you can say something that has the potential to challenge – and hey, let’s say it – change perception.

I really hope that in this case it has.

So, you’ve had an an honest conversation with your boss, and that may have went well, or not so. However that’s a conversation for another day.

So, what exactly do you do with yourself (if anything) when you need time off because you’re having a wobble?

The New Economic Foundation suggests the following five ways to better wellbeing.

  • Connect
  • Be Active
  • Take Notice
  • Learn
  • Give

If you’re not sure, ‘where you are today’ in terms of wellbeing, take a look at SAMH’s wellbeing Assessment Tool.

But if you’re a step (or more) beyond this, and need support, making an appointment with your GP is a good place to start. In case it helps, here are a couple of things to think about to help you get the most out of that interaction.

Finally, here are a list of organisations that can offer immediate support.

It’s important to look after your mental health, but YouGov research shows that around a quarter of us never do!

So what makes you feel good? And when was the last time you did that thing?

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