GREENSBORO, N.C. – When was the last time you took a mental health day – and called it that?
A few weeks ago, a Michigan woman sent a message her boss, and her coworkers, letting them know she was taking a few days off for her mental health. Her boss responded – and she posted what he said on Twitter. He personally thanked her for sending an email like this – saying, when she does, it reminds him of the importance of using sick days for mental health. He also commended her for being so open about it, and helping to “cut through the stigma,” so workers can “bring their whole selves to work.”
Her post about his response went viral, with many writing how glad they were for a boss as forward-thinking and open as hers.
But, taking days for mental health issue still has a stigma, according to experts like Dr. Nannette Funderburk, a psychotherapist.
“I do think we need to take them,” she said, “I don't think that people feel comfortable saying I need to take a day for my own mental health and mean it seriously and not as a joke.”
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She says she believes the days would fall under sick leave, because they deal with health, and that people should not feel guilty for taking them. A prolonged period of not addressing mental health issues can make them worse, Dr. Funderburk says.
“If we're going in that direction, it's almost like go ahead and get prepped for that negativity that's going to happen because were only human,” she said, “Issues that would be akin to, the sniffles, can turn into pneumonia. So, like ‘mental health pneumonia’ so to speak. Mental health issues can start small and then grow.”
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