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The Origins of MDR’s Mental Health Day

By: Mo Morehead

When Fred Dotts and I started the agency in 1974, we did so on the proverbial shoestring. The inside of our first office in an old rundown building was so small we had to take the lumber inside the office to build our desks. There was no way a desk was going to fit through that tiny door. In those early days, on Friday afternoons we would buy a six-pack of Miller High Life and cash a $20 check (which we then split between the two of us) for spending money over the weekend.

Later in the early 1980s and after some growth, business got extremely crazy, and the stress level continued to rise and rise. Finally one year we decided to take off the Friday before Labor Day, just to give everyone a break. That’s when we came up with the term “Mental Health Day,” because that was exactly what it was…a time we took off for our mental health. Literally. The term has stuck mainly because, I think, it rings true…sometimes you just need to take a day off and recharge.

The origination of the famous (or infamous) Friday Afternoon Happy Hours is another story for another time.