Law Passed in Several States Allows Students to Take Mental Health Days



Many students need to take a mental health day from all of the stress they have, but feel like they can’t due to potentially falling behind or losing motivation.

Kylie de Best, Section Editor

With the stress many teenagers have been facing in this generation, the need for a mental health day during a school week has been long needed. Students are often overworked for many months, and those taking advanced classes have been seeing work pile on them, making it hard for many to catch up. 

For years this has been an issue brought about, as “while school-related stress affects the mental health of 61.5 percent of students, only 26.1 percent of them have ever taken a mental health day” (solistertc). This is due to the fact that many fear missing school will make them fall behind and that they will lose motivation. However, it is important for them to understand that they must find balance in life, and that their mental health should always be top priority. 

Recently, several states such as Virginia, Illinois, Arizona, and Colorado have noticed this, and finally passed a law allowing for students to take mental health days. This is because “while school is a priority, education and the ability to learn are negatively impacted when suffering emotionally” (wset). Having staff acknowledge this encourages students to recognize that it is okay to put their mental health first, and therefore they will be more likely to take care of themselves better knowing that it is something they shouldn’t be ashamed of.

In Illinois, students can take up to five excused mental health days, and they don’t need to show a doctor’s note and can make up the work missed in class (WISLTV). This is beneficial to keeping students’ personal lives more private, and makes it easier for the kid to just miss class. However, after taking a second mental health day, the student and parent must meet with a school counselor to assess the situation. 

Another common situation where mental health days should be normalized is when a traumatic event happens in someone’s life. This is because people often feel like they are expected to not take too much time off school, often not giving them enough time to heal or get over the situation properly. This can cause the person’s anxieties to last much longer, as Abigail Lee (10) expresses by saying “mental health days are critical because sometimes it just takes one day off for us to reset in order to prevent ourselves from falling down a downward spiral.” With having more days to rest, it often helps people heal much faster than immediately going back to school.

Especially with the pandemic, many people’s lives have been negatively affected, making it an important time more than ever to get people to recognize how important it is to take care of their mental health. Other schools are catching on, and on November 12 schools in New Hanover County are giving students and staff a mental health day, as they feel that everyone needs a day to take care of themselves after the stress this year has given many (PortCityDaily).

Throughout the years, many students have been advocating for this change to happen, so it is great that schools are recognizing what needs to be prioritized most. Abigail Lee (10) emphasizes this importance by saying “our mental well being is an extremely important part of ourselves, and as teens, it becomes more fragile than ever.” With more schools normalizing mental health days, it is likely that soon people will start to recognize when they need to take a break and take care of their mental health.