Mental Health Days for Students


Finals week. The one phrase that strikes fear into the hearts of students everywhere. All students know the anxiety of many late nights spent pouring over notes, trying to solidify the material they need to know, the reading and rereading of textbook chapters, essays, anything that might help them recall information. If only there was a way that studying could be done without the hassle of rushing to classes, staying up too late, or waking up too early. Many students, for this reason, have tried taking mental health days; a day they can use to de-stress and get their lives organized. Sadly, many schools do not believe students need them. They think the students should be attending school when there is school, and not taking time off if they don’t need it. Recently, more and more students are realizing the need to take the days off, but how can they when the only way to get out of school is sickness? Mental health days should be allowed and encouraged by schools, not dismissed and deemed unnecessary.

Teens who take days off of school in order to focus on their mental health are found to be less stressed at school, in their daily lives, and in the workforce. When attention is turned temporarily away from the stressor, people can start to feel more relaxed. If they also do something that may relieve some of their stress when returning to their daily lives, they will find it easier to concentrate and feel more at ease.

Taking one day off from school does affect a child’s learning. Many students already take sick days, or trips while school is in session. If a child does not take many days off from school normally, then missing a day will not harm their education. Students who are absent are already given the materials they need to catch up the day they missed. Why not use these same tactics when addressing a student who needs some time to take care of emotional health?

According to an article by Jerry Shaw, stress is one of the many factors that can lead to depression and even suicide among teens. Though it’s a huge jump to say that the worry a teen feels over a math test will lead to him wanting to commit suicide, it has been proven that stress that is not addressed can eventually lead to more serious problems. Taking a day off to relax, evaluate, or figure out what is causing stress can help students maintain a healthy mindset, which can help them be more focused during classes and work more effectively.

Many students are already taking mental health days, but they don’t say it because there is no way for them to say it. Students must call in “sick”, even if their physical state is in perfect condition. If students are already taking a day off in order to lift their workload, then why not make it so students who need a mental health day can do so without calling in sick?

Though there are many benefits to taking a day off to focus on mental health, there are some things that should be avoided to make sure the day relieves stress, rather than increase it. If one spends the day binge-watching a show when there are things they can do to lessen their workload, they can often feel more stressed when they return to work or school. Any activities that are not healthy for your body and mind can also increase stress. The important thing to remember is that the day is there to help you, not hurt you.

Mental health days should not be treated like skip days. There will always be an irresponsible student who claims to be sick when in reality, they are just wasting the day. Mental health days are only effective when used to help loosen the stress of a normal school day. Doing things too out of the normal or unproductive can just make returning to school harder and even more stressful. You can’t keep a student from goofing off, you have to let them take the consequences for not taking the day to help themselves.

For schools, student’s physical health is a priority, so why isn’t mental health? By allowing students a day or two a semester to relax, schools will see an improvement in academic areas, and behaviors of students. They can allow students to do the best they can in school and can help keep students’ focused on trying their hardest to achieve their best.

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