Mental health days let students recharge

‘Everybody needs a break sometimes’

Alarmed at the high numbers of students suffering from poor mental health in the U.S., legislators in 13 states have enacted mental health days – legitimate and excused absence from school. D.C. is not one of them. Maryland is.

More than one in three high school students surveyed in 2021 said their mental health was not good most or all of the time.

“We’re human, we’re not robots,” Quinn Flowers, a clinical social worker, said. “So if you need a mental health day, you should be allowed to have a mental health day just to kind of clear your head, get your mind right, and come back and be even more productive than you were before.”

The concept of a mental health day isn’t new, but the idea has taken hold recently. Verywell Mind and Parents surveyed over 1000 parents in 2022 and found “very strong” support among parents of children between ages 8 and 17 for mental health days off.

Verywell Mind and Parents surveyed 1007 parents of children between the ages of 8 and 17. Source: Mental Health Days & Kids Survey (June 23-29, 2022)

Although it is beneficial, Assistant Principal Luccia Reda said it could be difficult for the school administration to implement mental health because students find loopholes and ways to abuse the privilege.

“I think that it needs to be managed well so that it’s not abused, so that it is really used and is going to allow kids to have access to mental health resources and support,” Reda said.

Although the students attending D.C. schools have access to mental health resources, students are still struggling to deal with their mental health. The 2021 Student Advisory Committee Report of the State Board of Education identified mental health “as a major concern for students due to loneliness, family issues, heightened anxiety, technology troubles, excessive workload.”

Students at Roosevelt were asked for this article, whether they should be able to have a mental day off: 19 out of 20 said yes, they should have days off for their mental health.

“Everyone needs a break sometimes and somebody might not feel well mentally to go to school,” said 10 grader Noemi Perdomo.

If you know someone who is struggling with mental health or seems in distress, reach out to a trusted adult or send an email to  [email protected].