Students need mental health days off


Graphic by Jessica Rao

Annika Agni, Forum Editor

We’ve all had days when the stress of school has been more than we can handle. Severe lack of sleep, incredibly difficult AP classes, and time-consuming extracurriculars can easily become a dangerous combination; one that affects far too many. Soon, school becomes something that students dread and their main source of stress. Because of this, students need to be able to take mental health days off.

According to the New York Times,  two states, Oregon and Utah, have recently passed laws allowing for students to do this. In Oregon, students are now allowed to take five days off every three months for their mental health. And in Utah, the definition of a valid excuse to miss school was amended to include mental illness as well as physical illness. Currently, in Illinois, Representative Deborah Conroy has introduced a bill that would allow students to have excused absences for mental health, but it has not yet been passed.

With the ever-increasing pressure to take more AP classes and become more involved in extracurriculars, the school can quickly become a major source of stress and anxiety. A day off every so often can make all the difference. It would allow students to take a day to sleep in, relax, and actually have time with their families so that they can get back on track with their work the next day. Just one day to help students manage their work and balance their course loads with their personal lives can help reduce the stress and anxiety many students face as a direct result of school.

Mental health also needs to be prioritized as much as physical health. Students are allowed to take a day off when they have a cold, but not when they are too stressed out or depressed? They are excused from school to recover from illnesses, but not when they need a day to manage their stress before they crack under pressure? Mental health issues are just as valid of a reason to miss school as physical illness are, and should be treated as such.

Some may be concerned that mental health days would give students the perfect opportunity to ditch school while facing no consequences for it. While I’m sure that some students would take advantage of this, it would only be a select few. For most students, mental health days are something many truly need, and a small number of students taking advantage of a mental health day policy shouldn’t ruin it for the rest of the students who genuinely need them.

Students deserve to be mentally stable, and mental health days are precisely what we need to achieve that. Our mental well-being is just as important, if not more important, than our physical health. Students must be given the opportunity to take time off to care for their mental health, without being penalized for it. It’s the least the school can do for us.