Stress in the workplace is not something to take lightly. If you feel that stress, anxiety, or depression are interfering with your ability to work, strongly consider taking a mental health leave to get some time to relieve some pressure and see a mental healthcare professional.
If your mental health is at a point where you are no longer able to carry out the essential duties of your work, you can also speak to an LTD lawyer about your workplace rights and the financial support available if you need to go on long-term disability leave.

What is Mental Health Leave?

Ontario employment laws do not have a specific leave for mental health or stress leave. Ontario's Employment Standards Act (ESA) allows for a minimum of three unpaid days off each calendar year as sick leave due to personal injury, illness or a medical emergency. The reason for your illness or injury does not have to be work-related, and you are still entitled to it sick days even if your injuries are self-induced.

What are the Signs that I May Need to Take a Mental Health Leave from Work?

It's crucial not to ignore or try to push aside any signals your body or mind is sending you. One of the first signs to be mindful of is finding yourself frequently feeling overwhelmed. Other warning signs can include:
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Left untreated, conditions combined with workplace and other sources of stress can build over time and cause a mental illness. Recognizing the signs, admitting that you need time off and requesting it from your employer is absolutely vital. Your mental and physical health should be your top priority.

Employee and Employer Rights Regarding Mental Health Leave in Ontario

Your right to take a mental health leave is legally protected, meaning your employer can't terminate you for taking the leave or asking about it. It's also illegal for an employer to threaten you or penalize you for taking a mental health leave. If they do, speak to an employment lawyer right away. 
Aside from the protections in the ESA, the Ontario Human Rights Code protects you if you need to take a mental health leave, and that leave is longer than the three days allowed in the ESA. 
The Code also places a duty on the employer to accommodate employees with physical and mental health disabilities – up to the point of undue hardship. This can mean providing you with a longer unpaid mental health leave or modifying your work schedule and job tasks, among other accommodations your healthcare professional recommends. 
The OHRC also makes it illegal for an employer to have a 'double standard' and treat mental health and physical health conditions differently.

Combining Sick Leave/Mental Health Leave with Other Types of Leave

Ontario workers are also entitled to other types of leave from work, including:
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If your mental health or sick leave was triggered by one of the circumstances above, you could also take that leave in addition to the mental health leave.