Understanding the Different Types of Mental Health Leave

Published: May 10, 2022

 Productivity       Salary & Benefits       Workplace Issues       
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Each type of job comes along with its own set of challenges, which can sometimes lead to increased stress or burnout. Worse yet, continuing to push yourself while already under stress can lead to serious mental health conditions such as depression. When you’re feeling overwhelmed it can sometimes help to take some time off, whether by taking some of your PTO or by using a “personal day,” if your employer still offers such a thing. Of course, you could also call out sick, but this can be a slippery slope.

Mental health leave is another option if you have decided to take some time off to recoup, refresh, and work on improving your mental health. If you’re feeling like you’ve reached the end of your rope and you don’t know what to do, fear not – today we will be talking about the different types of mental health leave that are available to you.


Employer Provided Paid Leave

In recent years, many employers have updated their healthcare plans to include benefits relating to mental well-being. In some cases, your employer may offer mental health days, napping rooms, an extended leave program, or any combination of these benefits. If you are unaware of any changes to your health plan, you can ask the Human Resources department and they will be able to go over any potential options you may have.


Short-Term Disability

This one relates to the above entry, as it is typically provided by your employer. Depending on your insurance policy, your condition may qualify as a disability, in which case you could receive paid leave for a certain amount of time. In order to determine whether you qualify for short-term disability leave, you can either consult your insurance policy, or simply talk to your Human Resources representative. Remember that different policies define “disability” differently, and that the amount of time off you’ll receive and whether it will be paid are subject to your policy’s terms.


Family Medical Leave Act

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that was put into place in the early 1990s. The law requires employers to offer up to 12 weeks of leave to its employees in the event they are experiencing certain medical or family emergencies, including health conditions that make the employee unable to perform their job. This particular option is great in that while you’re on leave, your job is protected through the law; however, any amount of time off you receive will be unpaid, which can be a major issue for some people. For more information about the Family Medical Leave Act, check out the Department of Labor website.


Paid Family and Medical Leave

Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) is a state-run program that allows employees to take paid leave while receiving a portion of their salary from the state. Depending on where you live, you may be able to take advantage of this particular benefit. Currently, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and Washington, D.C. offer PFML, with additional states expected to begin their own programs in the near future.

You may be able to take advantage of FMLA and PFML simultaneously if you qualify for both and if your state offers PFML. This is a great option, especially since you’ll be able to receive at least a portion of your salary while you’re on leave.

Lastly, you should take time to determine whether you require short-term leave or long-term leave. Intermittent leave defines a sporadic amount of time off such as half a day, a day or a few days, or perhaps a couple short weeks in a row. Continuous leave is long-term in comparison, where you may require an entire month or longer off.

With these options available to you, you should be able to take at least some time off in the event you’ve reached your breaking point. If you’re feeling stressed or on the verge of serious burnout, it would be wise to take some time to yourself to work on your mental health.