Why mental health days are a necessity

Why mental health days are a necessity

High school is a stressful time in adolescence and sometimes everyone just needs a break. De Soto High School and other districts should start giving sleep-deprived teens the option for mental health days.

What would a mental health day look like for DHS students? As of now, 12 states grant students mental health days and are counted as excused absences, but Kansas does not offer these absences according to Edweek.org.

“Why are they so important?” some may ask. According to a statewide survey from Kansas Communities that Care, sixth through 12th graders show that two in five students have felt depressed in the past year, which is a 5 percent increase from last year.

Due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, depression, and anxiety cases have risen significantly. This is extremely alarming and is why mental health days need to be considered.

Without a doubt, COVID has made the regular in-person schedule since it has added to high social anxiety. This is why mental health days are needed now. A break from social activities and stress in classes gives the chance for students to have a break from reality.

Not only did the pandemic add to mental health issues, but school already contributes to high levels of stress in students. A shocking seven out of 10 students have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression and 75 percent of high schoolers and half of middle schoolers feel “often or always stressed” according to schoolwork stated by a source Wallace, 2019 from Research.com.

Not only is the majority of students already feeling stressed about school, but Pew Social Trends states that 61 percent of students are stressed or worried about getting good grades. 

Did you also know that school is one of the leading factors in depression and stress according to a 2014 Washington Post article, “Stressed-out teens, with school a main cause”? While school is necessary for youth, districts could allow mental health days and help make mine and my peers’ lives easier.

Why is it that if someone breaks a bone the school gives immediate attention to it and allows students to have a rest day, but when someone is struggling mentally with depression or anxiety the school doesn’t allow those crucial breaks?

It is also important to understand that students under stress don’t perform as well as they could due to a lack of mental breaks. If businesses and companies are allowing their employees time off for mental health, then schools should too.

Increases of lack of motivation in the classroom have skyrocketed and have become more and more challenging for students to focus and give effort.

My question is, with all of this information, why are schools not giving their students the chance to recharge? If schools would start allowing mental health days and counting them as excused absences, more students would come to school prepared and focused. 

A study shows that students who are more rested retain and understand information tons better than a student who is overwhelmed. Mental health days need to be a priority.

Some may say that De Soto already offers parent requests to students, but that’s only five per year. It’s not enough for students throughout the entire school year.

Now, what should the policy be? In my opinion, the school should grant five mental health days per semester to allow students to get caught up or do something that helps alleviate their stress. Schools need to be taking our mental health seriously and prioritize it.