What To Do When You Need A Mental Health Leave

We have all had our bad days at work. The to-do list is overflowing with tasks that need to be done. Your phone won’t stop ringing. You are convinced you have messed up a meeting and are embarrassed recalling the details. You have missed an important deadline, and the client is breathing down your neck. While all these circumstances are frightening and stressful, they are, unfortunately, a regular part of our lives. 

But sometimes, these one-off bad instances start snowballing into something bigger. Making it through a workday feels like a task you just can’t accomplish. Projects and opportunities that excited you in the past now stress you to the point of exhaustion. Eventually, there comes a day when you wake up with a thought that says, “I would rather do anything than get out of bed and go to work today.” This is when you know you need a mental health leave.

But what is mental health leave? How do you ask your employer to give you one? How to handle the whole process of getting the leave? To help you navigate all the questions arising in your head, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to ask for a mental health leave. 

 Mental Health Leave

But first, let us understand what a mental health leave is.

There is no official definition of a mental health leave. It is generally considered a paid day off to offer employees who feel stressed out, overwhelmed, or just not like themselves get some time off work to reconnect with themselves and work on their mental well-being. Mental health leaves are generally drawn from the sick leaves awarded to employees in different organizations. 

A mental health leave is a temporary fix to a bigger problem and might not offer a long-term solution. However, sometimes taking a step back from your life and going away for a while can make a world of difference.

Steps To Take A Mental Health Leave

Now that you know the importance of a mental health day off, let us help you figure out how to get one.

1. Understand the leave options available for you in the organization.

A smart way to figure out how to take a mental health leave is to understand the benefits and leave options available to you in your organization. There are generally two categories of leave you can take:

  • Continuous leave: leave for a long uninterrupted period.
  • Intermittent leave: leave taken for a short duration of time, like a few hours, half-day, or a full working day.

In the case of benefits, an employee can ask for leave in various ways:

  • Employer benefits: Some employers offer specific mental health leaves to their employees, given the increased mental health awareness in recent years. 
  • Short-term disability: This is a type of insurance policy brought by your employer that can offer mental health leave depending on the specifics of your plan. 
  • Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA): This federal law dictates employers have to offer 12 weeks of leave for various personal reasons. However, while the law secures your position during your time off, it only provides unpaid leave.

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2. Talking to your manager.

The final step is to officially talk to your manager or supervisor to ask for a mental health leave. This conversation can be extremely daunting, mainly if you have never discussed your mental health concerns with your manager. 

If your workplace has an open culture where such conversations have occurred before, your request for a mental health leave will not come in as a shock. Schedule a private and confidential meeting with your manager if this is your first time. 

If you feel uncomfortable approaching your manager for a mental health leave, you can directly approach your company’s human resource (HR) department for assistance.

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Mental health leave is a resource used by employees who feel emotionally or mentally unwell and need some time off work to focus on their well-being. While the situation and process can feel daunting, taking care of your mental health is important. Therefore you should always opt for some time out whenever you feel getting overwhelmed or burned out at work.

Now that you know what a mental health day off is and how to take one, let us take you another helpful resource. Therapy is a powerful solution to all your work problems that leave you stressed and anxious at the end of the day. Access to therapy is much easier now with the advent of online therapy platforms. To know more about them, click here.

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