What is a Mental Health Leave of Absence?

Here's how to file a mental health leave of absence. Mental illness is projected to have afflicted over 20% of persons in the United States in 2019. However, less than half of those adults obtained mental health services. If you're struggling to keep up with your professional responsibilities due to a medical issue, it's critical that you seek treatment. A mental health leave of absence is just one of the several options open to you. Taking time from work as needed can help you perform at your best on the job.

mental health leave of absence

What is a leave of absence for mental health?

A mental health leave of absence is the time taken away from work owing to a mental ailment. Mental diseases are not uncommon, and numerous protections exist to assist you in dealing with them securely and without losing your job. Depending on your employer and your job scenario, you may have the option of taking a leave of absence.

This is not the same as vacation or personal time off, though they may be used in conjunction with or in lieu of a leave of absence. It's critical to understand what accommodations are available to you and how to make the best use of them.

How to take a leave of absence for mental health

A leave of absence for depression or anxiety can be quite beneficial if you're battling an illness that interferes with your career. You are not alone if you are feeling overwhelmed by the hardships of daily life. You may be eligible for medical leave for mental health to assist you in coping with a mental illness. Discover where to begin and how to best utilize this time.

  • Consult a mental health provider.
  • Determine your eligibility for the FMLA.
  • Consult with the department of human resources.
  • Confirm your healthcare provider's plans.
  • Return all required documentation to your employer.
  • Indicate how you intend to depart.
  • Create a strategy for managing your mental health.

Consult a mental health professional

If you believe you may require a mental health leave of absence, the first step should be to consult a mental health care practitioner. A licensed professional can assist in diagnosing your illness and offering practical advice on the best course of action. To obtain an FMLA-approved medical leave of absence for depression, you will require evidence from your health care practitioner. Consult with your healthcare practitioner to ascertain their support for this form of absence. This is often dependent on whether you meet the requirements for a diagnosis of a mental health issue.

Even if your doctor does not diagnose you with a specific mental health issue, he or she can still assist you in coping with your feelings. If you're requesting a leave of absence for mental health reasons, you're almost certainly experiencing some level of stress, anxiety, or depression. A provider of mental health services can assist you with resources and advice, which may include medication and counseling.

If your application for a medical leave of absence for mental health reasons is denied, you may still have options. Without a medical diagnosis, skip stepping three to understand how to proceed.

mental health leave of absence

Determine your eligibility for the FMLA

Those who qualify for the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may have their leave of absence protected. To be eligible for FMLA, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Employed by a company with 50 or more employees located within a 75-mile radius of your place of employment.
  • Have worked for your company for at least one year.
  • Have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours in the preceding 12 months.

If you qualify for FMLA, your employer is required to grant you with leave under certain circumstances. While FMLA leave is not compensated, you will retain your health coverage during your absence. The FMLA allows for a maximum of 12 weeks of approved medical leave per year.

You are not required to take all 12 weeks of leave in a row. You can utilize part of the leaves immediately and preserve the remainder for later. Additionally, you may use your daily or weekly leave to work fewer hours per day or fewer days per week. However, your physician must prescribe the most effective course of action for your health and complete the necessary papers for an FMLA-approved leave of absence.

Arrange for a meeting with the human resources department

Once you've gathered the necessary information, you should schedule a meeting with a member of the human resource department. This individual can assist you in comprehending all of your employer's accessible possibilities. Because every workplace is unique, it's critical to consult with your human resources department to gain a complete understanding of how to request a leave of absence for mental health.

Among the questions you may wish to ask are the following:

  • Is it possible to obtain medical leave for depression?
  • How many different forms of leave are included in my benefits package?
  • How much vacation time am I entitled to?
  • What procedures do you follow when taking a leave of absence?
  • Can I use paid time off to offset the cost of an FMLA-approved leave?
  • Are you able to accommodate a variety of schedules?
  • What mental health resources does the company offer?

If you are not qualified for an FMLA-approved mental health leave of absence, you may be able to work out an alternative with human resources. Perhaps a sabbatical would be preferable to a leave of absence for mental health. If your employer allows for flexible scheduling, you may be able to work from home part-time in order to ease your stress and anxiety. Certain employers provide personal leave that can be used for a variety of reasons, including mental health.

It's critical to be candid about your demands in order to maximize the benefits of any accommodations that are available to you. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from discriminating against you based on your mental health status. The ADA covers a wide range of disorders, including major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder.

Confirm your healthcare provider's plans

Once you've determined what your company is willing to allow, you should meet with your healthcare practitioner to confirm your plan for the future. If you are taking FMLA-approved leave, your doctor must complete the necessary papers. If you're taking another sort of leave of absence due to depression or mental illness, you should consult with your mental health care provider to determine the best way to utilize these accommodations to support your mental health.

Bear in mind that the major objective is to restore your mental health so that you may resume your daily responsibilities. You should be able to work out a plan with your employer and a mental health care practitioner that makes it as simple as possible for you to get back on track.

Submit all required documents to your employer

Prepare the relevant documentation for your leave of absence and submit it to your employer. As previously stated, this may include completed FMLA forms by your healthcare practitioner. Additionally, you may be required to submit extra documentation, such as a leave of absence letter.

While you're prepared to take sick leave for stress and depression, you should also consider additional forms of documentation that will be useful throughout your absence. You may wish to communicate critical contacts, files, or other information to others temporarily filling your function. During your absence, you should abstain from meetings, interact often with the office, and work from home in any other way. Take the time to prepare everyone before you go so that you are not burdened by incomplete projects while you are away.

Specify how you intend to depart

Ensure that you and your employer are clear on how and when you will take your absence. Bear in mind that you may be able to take one or two days off each week rather than a significant chunk of time.

Create a strategy for addressing your mental health concerns

It is critical to maximize the benefits of your leave of absence for mental health. Ideally, you will utilize this time to establish good habits and strengthen coping skills that will aid you in protecting and maintaining your mental health in the future. If you're taking a period of time off work, you can consider returning with a modified schedule that includes a shorter workweek or less hours. Additionally, you may wish to investigate additional techniques that will assist you in managing your mental health, such as taking regular pauses for meditation, working from home, or discussing adjusted responsibilities with your supervisor.

A mental health leave of absence should not be viewed as a vacation. This is a period of time set aside to focus exclusively on your health and wellness. Make the most of what is available to you so that you may perform at your best when you return to work.

If you are experiencing mental illness, consult with your employer and a mental health care practitioner to identify the best course of action. Certain employers do provide greater leave flexibility than others. If you're seeking a better fit for your needs, consider companies in your field.

Can employees use FMLA for mental health concerns?

Employees may be entitled to up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave for mental health issues, depending on the assessment and severity of their mental health challenges. If an employee does not qualify for FMLA due to mental health concerns, an employer may offer other choices.

Can you take a leave of absence for depression?

Depression is covered under the FMLA if you are a qualified employee and can demonstrate that the care you are receiving necessitates a leave of absence. Numerous mental health treatments may be included under this category.

Is it OK to take time off work for mental health?

Yes. Most companies are accepting of taking one or many days off work for mental health issues.

On the other end, it is also possible that informing your boss about your mental illness causes them to subconsciously discriminate against you. While you should undoubtedly feel right to leave, you should also be prepared to defend yourself or pursue legal action if necessary.

Are employers understanding of time off work for a mental health condition?

Yes. If the last several years have taught employees and employers anything, it is that mental health is just as critical as physical health, particularly in the workplace. However, what if an employee is unable to work due to a mental health issue? Are they permitted to take time off? And, if so, must their employer safeguard their employment until they return? The answer for many is found in the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Can I take a leave of absence from work for anxiety?

Anxiety, stress, or depression-related absences from work may necessitate many days off, which is where the FMLA can help. This may be sufficient time to seek more severe treatment if necessary, or it may be sufficient time to relax and seek assistance. If, on the other hand, you're wondering, "Can I receive a sick note for anxiety?" the answer is yes.

What is stress leave?

This will vary according to what your physician directs you to do. It is critical that you adhere to her directions and do not consider this a vacation. Even though you are not reporting to work, you are not on vacation.

If your leave is approved under the FMLA, you are not permitted to work during your absence. Except to respond to a brief inquiry, you should abstain from checking business email, participating in phone calls or meetings, or performing any work. You should prioritize your health and resolve the stress that prompted you to take the stress leave in the first place.

Can you take intermittent FMLA stress leave?

You certainly can. If your doctor determines that a shortened workweek or other accommodation is necessary to assist you with managing your severe stress condition, intermittent FMLA may be an option. The FMLA allows eligible employees to take up to 60 days of unpaid leave per year, and the days do not have to be consecutive.

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

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