By Lucy Sells
Media Production Editor
You wake up one morning with a sore throat and a fever: ah, the infamous sick day. Of course, you need to spend the day at home and focus on recovery. No school, no socializing, just rest; you simply cannot ignore your physical illness. But what happens when your mental health is low?
Parents, students, and administrators need to normalize mental health days. Approximately one in five teens between the ages of 12 and 18 suffer from at least one diagnosable mental health disorder, and a study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology in 2019 indicates that the mental health crisis is only growing. The topic of mental health is so taboo that teens oftentimes have trouble reaching out for help. Mental illness is as significant as “regular” illnesses, yet students take mental health days less frequently than a normal sick day.
School is stressful, and balancing school, work, and a social life is difficult for a normal student. Everyday living can be difficult for a student coping with mental health issues. A day to recuperate and heal is often necessary when struggling. Mental health problems can affect a student’s energy level, concentration, dependability, mental ability, and optimism. Trying to sit in class and focus when striving to just be okay is not something any student should deal with.
I know so many people who cannot skip school for mental health reasons in fear of missing important work; because of their mental struggle, they have hindered school performance. Students already battling mental illnesses should not have to tackle school. A few days off from school, or even just one day, can change so much. Resting allows students to relieve stress and get the help they need. After taking days off, students have renewed energy and are more productive, so overall mental health days increase performance.
Not only do mental health days support students, but they also help release the stigma of discussing mental health issues. Taking a sick day is common, and taking time for mental health recovery should be just as common. Schools need to recognize that taking a day off is better than attempting to push through until the next break. On the other hand, students need to recognize when they need these days off, and take them without fear. There should not be fear surrounding mental health days. According to 2019 statistics from the CDC, 18.8 percent of high school students seriously consider attempting suicide, and up to 90 percent of those who do kill themselves are mentally ill. Imagine the impact mental health days can make.
You wake up one morning feeling exhausted mentally. Spend the day at home and focus on recovery. A mental health day is as important as a sick day, and resting is essential for students in need. Take care of yourselves, physically and mentally.