When to Take Time Off for Mental Health

May 16, 2024

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It’s common for people to hesitate about taking time off work. Taking a break is okay, though, whether you’re feeling sick, stressed, or overloaded.  Read on to learn how and when to take time off work for mental health.

The Importance of Mental Health in The Workplace

Taking care of your mental health at work is essential for employees and employers. When workers feel supported and valued, they’re more productive, engaged, and satisfied with their jobs. Also, promoting mental health in the workplace can reduce absences and costs. By creating a positive and supportive workplace that doesn’t shy away from mental health issues, businesses can thrive while prioritizing the well-being of their workers.

Signs That You Need a Mental Health Break

These are common signs you might need a break from work for mental health reasons:

  • Extreme fatigue: Feeling tired often, even after a full night’s sleep, could be a sign that you need a break. Chronic fatigue can strongly impact your ability to function at work and in daily life.
  • Problems with focus: Struggling to focus on tasks or make decisions can indicate that your mind needs a rest. Mental fatigue can impair cognitive function and lower productivity.
  • Being irritable: If you are snapping at coworkers or feeling easily frustrated, it might suggest burnout. High levels of stress can make you more irritable and negatively affect your relationships with others at work.
  • Physical symptoms: Headaches, stomach aches, and other unexplained pains can sometimes be linked to stress and mental health issues. Physical symptoms are often manifestations of underlying emotional distress.
  • Loss of interest: Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy at work and home could signal that you need time to recharge. Emotional exhaustion can lead to disengagement from activities you once liked.
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Strategies for Taking Time Off Work for Mental Health

Now you know when to take time off work for mental health, here’s what to do:

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Need Help Getting Mental Health Treatment?

  • Know your rights: Inpatient mental health treatment is covered under the ADA and FMLA, so use these resources if needed. Understanding your rights ensures you get the support you need without fear of backlash.
  • Check your insurance: Make sure you understand what mental health services your insurance covers so you can use them effectively. Knowing your coverage can help you access the appropriate care without financial strain.
  • Talk to HR: Your HR department can provide guidance on how to request time off for mental health reasons and what documentation may be required. Open communication with HR makes the process easier.
  • Plan: Try to schedule your time off during a slower period at work to minimize disruptions. Planning allows you to address workload concerns and ease the transition during your absence.
  • Communicate effectively: Be open and honest with your supervisor about your needs and the importance of taking time off for your mental health. Clear communication leads to more understanding and support from your employer.

Will My Job Know if I Use Medical Leave for Mental Health

Your employer does not need to know if you use medical leave for mental health. Under the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act), your information is protected.

You will only need to disclose that you’re taking time off for a doctor-recommended medical leave. Remember, it’s okay to prioritize your mental health. Taking a break when you need can help you feel better and perform better in the long run. 

Here are some key points to consider when taking time off for a doctor-ordered mental health leave:

  1. Confidentiality: Medical information, including the specific reasons for taking leave, is generally confidential. Employers are required to keep this information private and secure, and they should not disclose it to others without your consent.
  2. Documentation: If you are taking medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or a similar policy, you will likely need to provide some form of documentation from a healthcare provider. This documentation may need to confirm that you have a serious health condition, but it does not need to specify the exact nature of your condition.
  3. Communication: You may need to communicate with your employer or HR department about your leave, but you do not have to disclose the specific reasons for your mental health condition. You can simply state that you are taking medical leave as advised by your healthcare provider.
  4. Support: If you feel comfortable, you can share more details with your employer, especially if you need specific accommodations or support when you return to work. Some workplaces have mental health support programs or Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) that can provide additional resources.
  5. Legal Protections: You are protected by laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the FMLA, which prevent employers from discriminating against employees for taking medical leave for mental health reasons.

It’s important to review your company’s leave policies and speak with HR to understand your rights and the process for taking medical leave for mental health reasons.

an image of two people decided to take time off work for mental health in Orange County

Get World-Class Inpatient Treatment for Mental Health at Connections

Struggling with your emotions or mental health can be tough, but you’re not alone. At Connections Mental Health in Southern California, we’re here to support you every step of the way.

If you need to use health insurance for treatment, our team of caring mental health experts is here to help you deal with this.

At our center, we keep our groups small, with only six people at a time. This way, you get the attention and support you deserve. Plus, being in a smaller group means you can connect with others going through similar experiences.

When you’re ready to take the next step, our expert staff will guide you through a personal treatment plan. This might include talking with a therapist, trying out new coping skills, taking medications, and exploring holistic methods like yoga and art.

If you’re in California and ready to start your journey to better mental health, call our friendly team at 844-759-0999.

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