Can I Take Medical Leave for Mental Health?


Yes. Mental health conditions can qualify as serious health conditions under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). If your mental health condition makes you unable to perform the essential functions of your job, you are entitled to 12 work weeks of leave in a 12-month period.

Your employer may not deny your request for leave without at least one reason why nor fire you for taking time off. At the end of your period of leave, you must be placed into the same job if it is available or a similar position if your original job is no longer available.

Mental Health Conditions That May Justify Leave

Anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, and substance use disorders may justify leave under the FMLA. You may need intermittent leave for treatment visits and therapy sessions or an extended period of leave to look after your mental health.

Mental health is just as important as physical health, especially in the workplace, so do not hesitate to take the time you need.

If your mental health condition is documented and interferes with your ability to work, you are entitled to leave under the FMLA.

How to Request a Mental Health Leave

To request an FMLA leave for your mental health condition, you must submit a request with your employer’s Human Resources (HR) department.

You do not have to provide your employer with a diagnosis, but you must give them enough information to show that your medical condition qualifies for FMLA leave. Your employer may also want proof of your medical condition, so you and your doctor may need to fill out paperwork.

Your employer’s HR department should guide you through the process of requesting a mental health leave. You can also review this helpful guide from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).

Does FMLA Cover Burnout?

No. Unfortunately, burnout is not a medical diagnosis and does not constitute a qualifying medical condition under the FMLA.

If burnout has led to a diagnosable condition covered under the FMLA, however, you may still be eligible for unpaid leave.

Burnout has been linked to irritable bowel syndrome, chronic back pain, severe depression, and substance use disorders.

What If Work Is Stressing Me Out?

If work is the cause of your stress, consider taking a vacation to recharge. If this is not enough, know that you may qualify for “stress leave.” Stress leave is another term for mental health leave under the FMLA.

If your doctor or therapist believes work stress is causing or contributing to another mental health condition (like severe depression or an eating disorder), you are entitled to take time away from work to recover.

What If My Employer Denies My Request or Fires Me?

If your employer denies your request for leave under the FMLA, they must give you at least one valid reason. You may be able to appeal the denial or file another request to correct any mistakes.

If your employer denies a proper request, denies a request without reason, or retaliates against you in any way, you may be facing disability discrimination.

You can file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) and/or file a lawsuit against your employer.

If you want to file a lawsuit, Donati Law, PLLC can help. We only represent employees and have been serving hardworking people like you for more than 35 years.

Do not jeopardize your mental health for a job. Instead, call us at (901) 209-5500 or contact us online to discuss your rights and legal options with our legal professionals.

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To discuss your case with an accomplished attorney who cares, give our firm a call at (901) 209-5500 or fill out the form below.

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