Mental health in the workplace hit headlines this summer as a CEO’s response to a request for a ‘mental health sick day’ went viral.

Madalyn Parker, a web developer and engineer at Olark Live Chat, left an out of office email explaining that she’d taken time off to ‘focus on her mental health’. The following day her CEO Ben Congleton responded to thank her for her honesty.

“I just wanted to personally thank you 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 us all, and help cut through the stigma so we can bring our whole selves to work.”

Parker posted the exchange to Twitter, and the emails went viral. While the public response was overwhelmingly positive, the fact that it made international headlines proves how taboo it is to take a mental health sick day.

On World Mental Health Day, we’ve been speaking to two of our lead tutors, Kevin Christie and Kate Wells, who also own Christie Wells Associates, about how to build resilience, and the importance of providing vital support as a leader.

Kevin says: “It’s not just what you achieve in life that defines your career – it’s also what you can overcome! Developing resilience to be prepared for the inevitable setbacks that we all experience is an important quality to have. Learning how to deal with things when they don’t go as we’d like them to, and having a mind set to avoid letting those circumstances get the better of us, is part of being resilient. It builds self-confidence and helps us find ‘calm’ in today’s – sometimes – frantic workplace.”

Kate says: “Resilience in teams is critical for them to perform at their best and be able to rise to the challenges of an ever changing workplace. Leaders would be advised to work on the areas that have the potential to chip away at resilience so teams can deal with setbacks and come back stronger than ever.  

“There are many strategies a leader can adopt, such as; setting stretching and realistic targets, allowing teams the autonomy to deliver on them, providing a safe environment to try new things and make mistakes, engaging teams in change and communication to name a few…  

“We must not forget for a team to be resilient, we must also focus on the individuals within who will each deal with pressures and stresses in different ways. Leaders are challenged to manage the balance of pressure and challenge to motivate, create positivity and feelings of achievement for an individual. We know this can have a positive impact on their mental health and wellbeing.”

If you would like to discuss developing resilience for yourself or your team, or workplace wellbeing, give us a call on 01443 482 482 or email [email protected].