Viral tweet sheds new light on mental health

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- A Michigan woman’s Twitter post has gone viral and shed a new light on mental health.

The post is an email from the woman to her co-workers explaining that she is taking a couple “mental health days” off work, followed by a positive response from the company’s CEO.

“Every year 1 million Coloradans experience mental health disorder and only half of them get care,” Mental Health Colorado president and CEO Andrew Romanoff said.

Mental Health Colorado is concerned by that statistic and said mental health is deeply stigmatized. Because of that, many don’t seek out the help they need.

“Too often mental illness carries the badge of shame and subjects people to ridicule and often discrimination. We’re trying to shatter that myth,” Romanoff said.

“Our goal is to prevent a mental health disorder from becoming a crisis lasting a lifetime or becoming a death sentence.”

Romanoff said mental health days can be extremely beneficial, if you use them the right way.

“Do something that makes you feel better about yourself,” he said. “Spending time with your loved ones or we know that exercise and diet have a huge impact on brain chemistry.”

Curtis Graves, a law attorney at the nonprofit organization Mountain States Employers Council, said sick days are a benefit offered at the discretion of the employer, and therefore, so are mental health days.

“In most cases, if someone gets five sick days a year and they’re not using more than five, it’s going to depend on the culture of the company,” Graves said.

“If they want to call in and say ‘I need a mental health day’ and it’s not going to put the company and co-workers in a bad day, I think most companies are going to roll with it.”

Mental Health Colorado encourages employers to have an open mind when it comes to mental health days, and help eliminate the difference between mental health and physical health.

“Mental illness is real and treatable but it does require early intervention,” Romanoff said.

Mental Health Colorado has several resources to offer help. The state operates an around-the-clock counseling and support crisis hotline at 844-493-8255.