Why Schools and Colleges Should Allow Mental Health Days for Students

Mental health in today’s world is not being neglected as much as it used to be in the past. Experts are putting forward the need to discuss the necessity of mental health checkups. Here are a few things that parents need to consider if they want to make the most of their children’s mental health.

Depression is responsible for affecting at least 20% of the teenagers, and suicide has become the third leading cause of death among the Americans of ages 10-24. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center claims that around 70 percent of the students of high school held their peers responsible for their disturbed mental health. This justifies the need for a day off every once in a while for these students to relax and take good care of themselves. This is referred to as mental health or personal days in the professional working life.

The state of Oregon passed a new law in July, in which the students were given up to five days dedicated to the wellbeing of their mental health over the course of three months. This law was inspired by the students in Parkland, Florida, Oregon, who lead the cause of making sure that their peers emphasized on the mental health of the students more. “Dealing with anxiety and depression throughout high school has always left me tired, exhausted up against some weeks, and the difference one day makes is honestly life-changing”, says Derek Evans, a student, while explaining the importance of mental health days to Fox 12 Oregon. 

The definition of “excused absence” was broadened by the Utah schools in 2018, in order to include the kind of illnesses that may be physical, as well as mental. This act was known to contribute towards eradicating the stigma attached to mental health and the discussion related to it. The students were also more encouraged this way to talk about the struggles they might be facing. “When you’re able to call up and say I’m having a panic attack and can’t come to school today, instead of having to make up a cold, that really begins to normalize the fact that mental health conditions are the same as physical health conditions, and we shouldn’t be ashamed of them,” says Robin Henderson, Psy.D., chief executive of behavioral health for Providence, told Fox 12 Oregon.

How can Mental Health Days be Beneficial for your Child?

Children tend to face issues related to stress and pressure which becomes hard for the parents to understand or even point out. There have been school shootings, bullying scenarios, and whatnot. Such situations when met with, leave a lasting impact on a child’s brain. The kids start carrying emotional baggage with them that keeps on hoarding up, which is why it is important for the kids to know that they can openly talk about their mental health struggles and recover from them. Everyone should treat both physical and mental health with the same amount of concern to create a comfortable environment for the kids to confide in.

A licensed family and marriage counselor in Santa Ana, CA, Anabel Basulto says, “Young people can benefit from having a break from social pressures by reconnecting and spending quality time with family—this can help lessen anxiety and depression.”

When does your child need help?

It is not easy to judge if your child is struggling with their mental health, especially when they are not comfortable sharing it. There is usually an impact of these illnesses on outward behavior which becomes another hurdle to cross while getting to know your child’s struggles. While they can be misleading if you do not have the required knowledge, they can also become a lead for your kid’s diagnosis. Anxiety or depression can make your child feel isolated, there can be a change in grades, dramatic behaviors, you may notice a loss of interest in activities that may have been your child’s favorite a long time ago.

Understanding Mental Health Days:

If you really want to become a helping hand towards your child’s struggle, you must know that it will take more than just taking a day off from school. When a kid has a physical injury, the child is usually taken care of on an off day. Have a conversation with them and spend time to establish a bond of comfort between you and your child. Tell them that you can be trusted. Monitor their activities and see the changes in patterns or habits. Strengthen the connection you have.

You can also consult with your pediatrician if your child shows any signs of a mental illness or struggle. You can begin as early as when to notice a major change in any usual pattern.