The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Taking sick leave for a mental health day — and your boss doesn’t bash you for it

Placeholder while article actions load

Trending on Twitter this week was a story about an employee who came clean to her boss.

She needed a break. She confessed that she needed to take a mental health day.

So, she two took two days of sick leave.

“Madalyn Parker, a web developer who suffers from chronic depression and anxiety, sent an email to her team saying she’d be off two days to focus on her mental health,” reported USA Today’s Ashley May.

Parker’s boss, Ben Congleton, who is chief executive at Olark, a live-chat platform, responded how many workers would hope. The Internet went wild after Parker posted his response on Twitter. That is the kind of person you want to work with and for.

When I last checked, Parker’s tweet had 14,709 retweets and 42,052 likes.

It’s worthwhile to read the responses. The whole conversation is worthwhile. I’ve certainly taken my share of mental health days, except I wasn’t brave enough to tell my boss. I just took the sick leave.

We have plenty of evidence that supports the idea that mentally healthy — and for that matter financially healthy — employees are good for the bottom line.

Why Happy Employees Are 12% More Productive

Is improving staff well-being the secret to brand health?

Employee financial health connects to physical health

There are a lot of workers who should follow Parker’s example: How To Know When You Need A Mental Health Day

I hope this isn’t a short trend, because this is a discussion we need to continue. More employers have to recognize that mental health is as important to address as a physical illness.

When a woman took sick days for mental health, her email sparked a larger discussion

And because this is a personal finance newsletter, need I remind you that your wealth is connected to your health?

The Convergence of Health and Wealth

Color of Money question of the week
I actually have a few questions: What are your thoughts on taking sick leave for mental health issues? Should you tell? Have you ever taken a mental health day, and were you punished or challenged for it? Send your comments to Please include your name, city and state. Put “Mental Health” in the subject line.

Live chat today
Let’s talk about millennials and their money. Join me today for my weekly personal finance live discussion. My guest this week is Erin Lowry, author of the Color of Money Book Club’s June pick, “Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping By and Get Your Financial Life Together.”

Here’s my review: Being a penny-pincher now may help you later — financial advice from one millennial to another

To participate in the discussion, click this link.

How intimate are you willing to get to save money?
It pays to be loyal.

So many of us sign up for loyalty memberships in which we exchange information about ourselves for the promise of savings on purchases or services. “The average person is currently enrolled in around 13 separate loyalty programs,” reports Steven Anderson for Payment Week.

So I wanted to know: Are you concerned about the data you’re exchanging for a discount?

Luz Flores of Lakewood, Calif., wrote, “For those who shrug off the idea of giving away personal information in return for discounts, think about this: If you buy condoms or other kinds of birth control products, some computer knows how often you have sex. That’s pretty personal.”

Well, I certainly hadn’t thought about that.

“I am concerned about my data used in loyalty programs,” wrote Lorna Gilkey of Alexandria, Va., a reader who frequently answers the Color of Money question of the week. “I’ve noticed a trend recently that at the very time I usually run out of bathroom tissue and laundry detergent, a coupon would magically appear in my mailbox from BJs for those exact things and the specific brands I buy. At first I thought, ‘Wow, this is cool!’ Then I realized ‘someone’s watching me’ and is trending not only what I buy, but WHEN I buy it. It’s all very Orwell’s ‘1984’ and makes me want to use cash only for my purchases. The problem with doing that is I’ve begun using a budget manager that tracks my credit card use and categorizes everything. Because of this, I use the credit card for most things and then pay it off monthly. I like discounts and gas rewards, but being tracked like this gives me a creepy feeling.”

Clarification: I need to correct an error that a reader caught in last’s week’s newsletter. I had wrote, “Close to 4 billion people have signed up for loyalty programs.” I had meant to write that there were close to 4 billion loyalty memberships in the United States. Thanks, Tim, for the copy-editing catch!

Color of Money columns this week
Knowledge isn’t power. The right knowledge is power.

Stay informed about your money. Read and share some recent columns.

Have a question about your finances? Michelle Singletary has a live chat every Thursday at noon in which she discusses financial dilemmas with readers. You can also write to Michelle directly by sending an email to Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read more Color of Money columns, go here.