Mental Health Day Off Law

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States That Allow Mental Health Days For Students

Why students should have mental health days | Hailey Hardcastle
  • Washington:A new law passed in June 2022 allows students to use mental or behavioral health reasons as a valid excuse for an absence.
  • California: Governor Gavin Newsom signed a Senate bill into law in 2021 that allows students to miss school for mental or behavioral health concerns and treats the absences as a missed school day.
  • Illinois: Schools in the state must now allow students to take up to five mental health days each year, starting January 1, 2022.
  • Virginia: In 2019, the general assembly of Virginia passed a bill that allows students to claim mental health as a valid excuse for an absence.
  • Maine: Governor Janet Mills signed a bill in 2020 that allows students to allot days off from school for mental and behavioral health reasons.
  • Connecticut: All students are allowed to take two mental health days from school per year as long as the days aren’t consecutive, according to a bill passed in 2021.
  • Oregon: The state passed a law in 2019 that allows students to take up to five days off from school within a three-month period, including mental health days and typical sick days.
  • Arizona: Depending on the school district, students may be allowed to take mental health days similarly to how they would take a sick day, which began in February 2021.
  • Nevada:Students in the state, ages 7-18, can miss a school day for mental health reasons if they provide a note from a mental or behavioral health professional, which started in 2021.
  • How Do I Show My Employer That I Have A Disability

    Sometimes your employer may accept what you say without asking for more information. But, because mental health problems aren’t visible, it may be hard to explain your situation to your employer.

    It is helpful to have a note from your doctor or another professional to explain:

    • what mental health problems you have
    • how they may affect you
    • what adjustments might help you to manage your work.

    You could also show your employer our information on different types of mental health problems.

    What is the occupational health service?

    Your employer can refer you to occupational health if you have a mental health problem that is affecting your work or causing you to take time off sick, particularly if this is more than 2 or 3 weeks at once. Occupational health referrals will help your employer understand what adjustments need to be made to support you at work.

    Occupational health services may also make an assessment of your ability to do your job. If you disagree with this it is important to get specialist legal advice.

    There is also a government funded occupational health service called Fit for Work. Fit for Work offers free, expert and impartial work-related health advice to employers, employees and GPs.

    Do Your Employees Deserve A Mental Health Day Off

    Whether you hire a full time, casual or part-time employee, being mindful of the working entitlements of your employees is important.

    However, more often than not employees, as well as employers, lack clarity around the number of leave entitlements especially mental health days off. Of course, this ambiguity leads us to some pressing questions such as:

    • Is mental health leave in NSW a separate entitlement under the Fair Work Ombudsman?
    • Is mental health day considered sick leave?
    • As a business, do we offer stress leave to my casual employees?

    In this post, we cover everything there is to know about mental health day off and the ways in which you can support your employees.

    Read along

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    What Is Stress And Why Could Your Employees Need A Mental Health Day Off

    Its quite important that you do as one in five Australians took time off work in the past 12 months because they felt stressed, anxious, depressed or mentally unhealthy. Its necessary to remember that your employees mental health is just as important as their physical health.

    So it would be a good idea to learn what stress is and what could cause it if you want to ensure your employees receive the help they need.

    Your employees could feel stressed when they feel overwhelmed and unable to deal with certain life and workplace circumstances. An employee may experience work-related stress when they feel unable to cope with:

    As an employer, you should take proactive measures to reduce workplace stress. Theres no doubt that discussing your employees personal life can be difficult, but remaining sensitive to mental health issues that may create stress is crucial.

    You can greatly reduce work-related stress by listening to your employee and trying to assist with work pressure.

    What Is A Mental Health Day Off

    How To Ask Your Boss For A Mental Health Day

    Mental health day off is just like taking a day off but is specifically meant for stress relief and to prevent burnout. It is a break that focuses entirely on your mental health, giving you a chance to take a pause, recharge, and rejuvenate.

    It is a great way to rest and reset your perspective towards work when your stress levels have already reached their peak. An ordinary day off may not be enough to deal with burnout, but taking a mental health day off can surely give you a well-deserved break.

    Recommended Reading: The Power Of Mental Discipline

    How To Call In Sick For Mental Health What To Say

    If you need to call in sick for mental health reasons, it can be hard to know what to say or how to approach your manager.

    If you are suffering from mental health issues, it can feel overwhelming. However, do make sure you follow all your company policies for taking time off sick.

    Here are a couple of ways to explain the reason for needing time off when calling your workplace.

    Keeping it brief and to the point is best:-

    • I have been struggling with my mental health, and Im not well enough to come to work today.
    • Im not well enough to come to the office today. I am going to take a day off to recover, and will keep in touch about returning to work.

    If you dont feel up to a phone call, or would struggle to remain calm you might consider sending an email.

    If your workplace sick policy requires you to phone in, you could still send an email explaining your situation. This could then be followed up with a brief phone call, saying you cant come in but have sent an email to explain.

    If you dont feel able to discuss taking time off for mental health as your reason to stay off work, you could say you have a migraine or tummy bug. However, once you are feeling well you should consider discussing your health with your workplace so they can support you.

    Our more general guide has lots of tips on how to navigate .

    Signs You Need To Take A Mental Day Off

    If youre a workaholic, you probably refuse to take a break until you really feel ill or need to see a doctor. You are most likely exhausting yourself too much, which is not good for your physical and mental health. If not addressed properly, it can cause physical illnesses or serious mental health issues.

    Here are some signs that will tell you that your body is screaming for you to take a mental health day off.

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    Sick Leave And Personal Leave

    In accordance with the National Employment Standards, employees are entitled to paid sick/personal leave for personal illness.

    According to the Fair Work Ombudsman, personal illness includes stress that may impact an employees mental health.

    Generally speaking, how much sick leave a part-time or full-time employee is entitled to will depend on their unique circumstances and the hours they work.

    For example, an employee who works 38 hours per week over 5 days is generally entitled to 72 hours of paid sick leave per year. Similarly, a part-time employee who works 19 hours a week will receive 26 hours of paid sick leave per year.

    Sick leave can also accumulate if you dont use it all up each year. You can read more about sick leave here.

    Can I Be Fired For My Mental Illness

    Should Students Be Allowed To Take Mental Health Days From School?

    The Americans with Disabilities Acts protects employees from discrimination based on a disabilityincluding mental health conditions like depression or anxiety. That means you cannot legally be fired just because you have one of the following:

    • a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities
    • a history of such a disability, or if an employer believes that you have one, even if you dont or
    • a record of, or being regarded as, having such an impairment.

    Thats great newsbut theres some fine print.

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    What Do You Do During A Sad Day

    In deciding how to use a mental health day, it helps to think about what brought you to this point in the first place. Do your personal relationships need attention? Are you exhausted from your workload and desperate to disconnect from everything? Did you have a particularly stressful week and want to spend some time decompressing? Maybe its a combination of several things.

    Thinking it through ahead of time will help you use your day in the most helpful way possible. While one person might benefit from a massage or a day of pampering, another person might want to paint or garden. Others will find the most value in reconnecting with friends or family members.

    The day might also provide an opportunity to rethink your day-to-day activities. Are they giving you pleasure or meaning? Dr. Kuller asked.

    Next, think about ways to take care of yourself on a regular basis, he added, like meditation, yoga or cooking a healthy meal. Make a plan to do more of those things going forward.

    Whatever you do, dont spend the day checking your messages or feeling guilty, the experts said.Self-care is not a selfish act, Dr. Grant said. People who are selfless to the point of self-sacrifice end up burning out.

    What Family Members May I Use Paid Sick Leave To Care For

    Family members include your:

    • Child – This may include a biological, adopted, or foster child, stepchild, or child you are legally responsible for.
    • Parent – This may include your biological, adoptive, or foster parent, your stepparent, or someone who was your legal guardian or their spouse or registered domestic partner or a person who was legally responsible for you when you were a minor.

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    Mental Health Clinic Opens Inside A Walmart

    Children are already missing school for mental health reasons,” Hardcastle said. “The thing is, they’re lying about it. They’re doing the old-school pretending they had a fever, or they’re sick, or a headache.”

    “Our biggest goal is just making sure that everyone knows that mental health is just as valid as physical health, Evans said.

    Oregon is the latest state to address mental health issues among students. Utah passed a similar law last year and Florida has ordered schools to offer mental health classes in their curriculum starting in sixth grade.

    If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.

    Abide By Your Company Handbook

    Unfiltered Conversations: Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

    The place to learn about your companys sick leave policy, how many days you get, and what you can use them for is likely in your companys employee handbook. The average company offers employees seven days of sick leave a year.4 That number may grow the longer youve been at a firm. Government agencies and trade unions tend to provide even more paid time off than private businesses offer.

    Firms with 50 or more employees must abide by additional regulations that give you time off for family medical issues. That includes mental health needs. Of course, there are requirements, likely documented in the leave section of the company handbook, that cover these policies, like family medical leave or parental leave. Mental health time off is similar to any medical or health need protected under labor laws.

    If your company doesnt have a handbook, ask your manager or HR representative for a copy of the time-off policy. Is it paid time off, or unpaid? Can you request time off work for any reason, including mental health, or only for specific conditions, such as when you have a fever? What does the company require when you need to take a day off? Is there a form you must submit? Whats the process? Who must be notified, and when?

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    What About Mental Illness

    So youre covered when it comes to taking a day or two to rest and recuperate your mind. But what if its not just one day? What if youre diagnosed with a mental illness?

    Well, according to the Code Of Good Practice On Key Aspects Of Disability In The Workplace, your employer needs to make proper provision for you if you have a mental disability or impairment which is defined as a clinically recognised condition or illness that affects a person’s thought processes, judgment or emotions.

    The Code is meant to help employers and employees understand their rights and obligations when it comes to disability. The Employment Equity Act means that youre protected from unfair discrimination and entitles you to affirmative action measures in case you need them.

    The Code says employers should reasonably accommodate the needs of people with disabilities. The aim of the accommodation is to reduce the impact of the impairment of the person’s capacity to fulfil the essential functions of a job.

    You can read more on what is defined as reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities in the Code here

    States Where Bills Have Been Proposed

    New York: Bill S563 was proposed in 2019 to establish that absence from school for mental or behavioral health reasons is permissible, and requires the State Education Department to establish rules to implement these provisions. This bill has not yet been signed into law.

    : Bill 461 was proposed in 2021 to establish that students can take one mental health day per quarter without needing a doctor’s note. This bill has not yet been signed into law.

    Massachusetts: Bill H.3782 was proposed to allow two absences for mental or behavioral health reasons within a six-month period. This bill has not yet been signed into law.

    Pennsylvania: Senate Bill 506 was proposed in the spring of 2021 and would grant Pennsylvania public school students up to two wellness days per semester, provided they have a note from their parent or guardian. This bill has not yet been signed into law.

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    How To Ask Your Boss For A Mental Health Day Off Work

    Benjamin Troy

    MD

    So you need to take a mental health day off work. Federal laws protect workers with mental health issues.1 Local sick leave laws may guarantee your time-off rights. Or, your companys time-off policy may accommodate your request. Once you know the rules, go ahead and ask for a mental health day off of work.

    BetterHelp has over 20,000 licensed therapists who provide convenient and affordable online therapy. BetterHelp starts at $60 per week. Complete a brief questionnaire and get matched with the right therapist for you.

    Choosing Therapy partners with leading mental health companies and is compensated for referrals by BetterHelp

    How Do You Take A Mental Health Day Leave

    New Bill Allows Oregon Students To Take ‘Mental Health Days’ | NBC Nightly News

    Everyone has different needs and reacts individually toward stress. A self-care day will always be different for each person. Some would wish to spend the day with their family, while others would want to spend it alone and take time to reconnect with their inner self.

    Self-care is something that you do that helps you relax your mind and body. It consists of practices that fill you with energy essential if you want to promote and enhance your physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

    Take mental health leaves not just because youre sick, but because your mental health needs it, and spend them entirely on self-care and personal time. It doesnt matter whether you sleep on the couch the whole day or read a book in front of your porch while sipping a cup of tea as long as it keeps your mind off your work stressors.

    Recommended Reading: Sleep Deprivation And Mental Health

    What Is A Mental Health Day

    The term mental health day typically refers to taking a day off of work or school to focus on your emotional wellness. Its similar to a traditional sick day, except that you dont need to have a physical illness or injury to use it.

    There is also World Mental Health Day, which the World Health Organization organizes each year. This event helps recognize the importance of mental health awareness in all settings.

    Leave For Mental Health Conditions Under The Fmla

    An eligible employee may take FMLA leave for their own serious health condition, or to care for a spouse, child, or parent because of a serious health condition. A serious health condition can include a mental health condition.

    Mental and physical health conditions are considered serious health conditions under the FMLA if they require 1) inpatient care or 2) continuing treatment by a health care provider.

    A serious mental health condition that requires inpatient care includes an overnight stay in a hospital or other medical care facility, such as, for example, a treatment center for addiction or eating disorders.

    A serious mental health condition that requires continuing treatment by a health care provider includes

    • Conditions that incapacitate an individual for more than three consecutive days and require ongoing medical treatment, either multiple appointments with a health care provider, including a psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, or clinical social worker, or a single appointment and follow-up care and
    • Chronic conditions that cause occasional periods when an individual is incapacitated and require treatment by a health care provider at least twice a year.

    An employer may require an employee to submit a certification from a health care provider to support the employees need for FMLA leave. The information provided on the certification must be sufficient to support the need for leave, but a diagnosis is not required.

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