Why students should get mental health days

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A ‘mental health day’ is a designated day to take a break from one’s occupation or schoolwork, in order to prioritize mental health. Despite having many benefits, on the school level, students who do take mental health days arrive at school the next day, buried under missing assignments and schoolwork, making matters worse. This is mostly due to teachers being unaware of why the student was absent. This does not have to be the case; schools should provide designated mental health days for the students where assignments don’t have to be made up, so that the students don’t have to worry about their schoolwork and can finally take a greatly deserved break.

According to Lo Styx and an article on Very Well Mind, mental health crises have skyrocketed in children and teens in the past year. This is majorly due to the pandemic affecting nearly every corner of the world at the moment. Isolation and big life changes frequently contribute to large amounts of anxiety and depression, especially in the young population, such as children and teens. Should schools provide days where students are able to rest, especially when the world’s mental health is in decline?

According to Matt Shenker, a medical professional, “Giving students mental health days makes teaching and learning more effective, as students will grasp concepts sooner and retain them more deeply if they experience less chronic stress.” School is a rather stressful environment for students, especially with how the world is at the moment. A poll conducted in 2020 found that 78% of the 1,500 teens surveyed were in support of mental health days, believing that schools should offer them. One could argue that these students are just trying to escape the school environment, however according to the National Alliance on Mental Health, stationed in the United States, one in every six children ages six to 17 experience a mental health disorder, these students really do need a break.

I asked a fellow freshman, Alana Taylor, for her thoughts on mental health days for students. She claimed to be in favor of mental health days, and when asked if she believed Lanier High School properly advocates for students’ mental health, she responded with, “…no they barely talk about it…” She also mentioned the stresses that come with the great amounts of standardized testing. She also mentions, “And I can definitely [see] mental health crisis have increased,” adding that she and a friend have had their own first hand experiences with decreased mental health, since the pandemic especially.

Even if schools will not offer mental health days themselves, it’s important to give students days off to take, and at least encourage students to advocate for their own mental health. This global pandemic has created a mental health crisis among the population, young teens especially. It’s important for schools and education systems to acknowledge this and make sure their students are informed. After all, it’s important for everyone to care for one’s own mind, as well as body.

Jacobson, R. (n.d.). Should Kids Take Mental Health Days? Child Mind Institute. https://childmind.org/article/should-kids-take-mental-health-days/

Styx, L. (2021, September 16). The Growing Acceptance of Mental Health Days for Students. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/the-growing-acceptance-of-mental-health-days-for-students-5199076