Opinion: mental health days are a necessity for students today

Many are familiar with the feeling of being completely and utterly exhausted and overworked.  It is a sense of hopelessness that overcomes you and causes you to feel like you will never be able to reach your goals.  This burnout happens to many students and, when not taken care of, it can lead to low academic performance and perpetuated mental health problems.  One way to resolve this, and keep to school learning schedules, is by allowing students to have mental health days. 


Mental health days are breaks taken to rest and recharge one’s brain, especially after long periods of stress and high workloads.  Many states in the nation have policies that allow for students to use this tool.


In the opinion of the Portfolio newspaper staff, students should be allowed to take excused mental health days in schools because they show students that prioritizing mental health is important, they  keep students healthy and they  allow  students to recuperate so that they can prosper academically in the future.  This is certainly the only logical way to provide for the wellbeing of students’ futures, and the bare minimum schools can provide.


According to Very Well Mind, 12 states have legislation that gives students the ability to take mental health days off.  Four other states have similar legislation pending.  For example, states like Washington and California recognize mental health as a legitimate reason to miss a day of school. Public schools in Illinois must allow students to take up to five mental health days per year.


Some students may feel as if taking a day off for their mental health may make them seem weak or childish. If mental health is ignored, students may think that they have to dig themselves into a deeper hole of stress to be normal or accepted by their school community.  Schools should be obligated to show that students’ mental health matters and should be valued.  


According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, taking a sick day to manage one’s mental health shouldn’t be rare — it should be encouraged, without fear of stigma or discrimination.


Additionally, health is an important factor for kids. Mental health is a facet of this. If a student is feeling overwhelmed, they should have the right to protect their health and take the day off.  Students at Bak MSOA are allowed four  excused days per quarter for sickness. This is only allowed if a student is physically ill, and they must provide a doctor’s note. This is not taking into account illness in the mind which, in some cases, can affect a student even worse than the common cold can.


According to Verywell Mind, an award-winning resource for mental health information,  one in six children aged 6–17 experience a mental health disorder each year. And 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14. Middle school is a vital part of a student’s life.  Children are impressionable and shaping the people they are. Taking a mental health day can reduce stress and save someone from developing an illness so early in their life.  


Some believe that mental health days hurt students more than they help. Students may take a break from school in order to get out of doing something they are nervous about like an exam or presenting a project, setting people back and leaving the student more insecure than they began.  


In an article by Child Mind Institute, a non-profit organization that educates people about children’s mental health, Allison Dubinski,  licenced clinical social worker for Child Mind, is quoted saying, “Mental health days can be positive for any child as long as they’re done in a way that’s not reinforcing avoidance or anxiety. […] If kids are asking for a day off because they’re trying to get out of something that they’re anxious about, staying home may end up reinforcing that anxiety.”



While this is true in some cases, it   can be prevented through building up confidence and self assurance in students. A mental health day is a great tool to not only allow them to recuperate but also prepare emotionally for the future of their success.


According to the National Library of Medicine, young people who receive appropriate mental health support have improved academic achievement, are more likely to graduate and are more likely to attend and successfully complete college.


Our district acknowledges mental health and explains the importance of it  to a certain degree. We are shown videos about how to destress and what to do if you are feeling depressed.  However, when it comes to a clear and proven way to improve our mental health, we are not always allowed a clear opportunity.  


Mental health days do not have to seperate from the number of excused absences students are already allowed.  Mental health days can be included which will minimize the potential for students to abuse this.  


The solution to help students cope with their mental illnesses  is clear.  If schools wholeheartedly care for their students more than an attendance record, we would be able to take the mental health days we need and deserve.