Opinion: Students Should Be Able to Miss School for Their Mental Health


By Ella Lindemann, Features Editor

Mental health days are days that one may take when feeling overwhelmed and possibly experiencing burnout from overworking. For students specifically, this can be a day to take a step back and reassess their mental health when feeling too overloaded with homework or school activities.

As a junior in high school, mental health days have quickly become my saving grace for preventing burnout. Junior year is notorious for being one of the hardest years of high school because of all of the classes and extracurriculars students take along with the added studying for the SAT/ACT and preparing for the college application process.

Going from a summer of fun straight into junior year is like getting hit in the face with a bunch of bricks. I’ve personally never been hit in the face with a brick, but I imagine it hurts. This is why mental health days are so important because it makes the impact of the brick a little less hurtful by giving students a chance to recharge and get back to the craziness of their day without letting the work slowly wear away at their sanity.

“What about the weekends?” you may be asking. Personally, the weekends are spent doing homework, attending extracurricular events and spending time with family. On the weekends my whole family is home, which makes it harder to get some alone time. Sorry Mom and Dad, but sometimes you stress me out, too.

Taking a mental health day doesn’t have to be a day just sitting in the living room and binge-watching Gilmore Girls with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (not that I’m speaking from experience…). Mental health days can also be taken to catch up on homework. This allows for time to work on homework at your own pace and in your own space. Depending on what’s going on in your classes, you may be able to work on that day’s school work, so you don’t have to make anything up when you get back to the classroom. Since there is no set schedule, if you really wanted to you could probably fit at least one episode of Gilmore Girls in, too.

Mental health days are especially important for students because it gives them a healthier way to deal with stress. I think that many teenagers turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms because they are overwhelmed with life and don’t know of another way to deal with it. Personally, I began to drink a lot of coffee when the homework started to pile on. I didn’t think that taking a break from school was an acceptable option, so I assumed the caffeine boost would be enough for me to get my work done. The problem is that no student should feel the need to prioritize academics and athletics over their mental health.

It should be unacceptable NOT to prioritize mental health. The solution would be for school systems to encourage mental health days or include a day in the school week with no scheduled classes (just like the asynchronous Wednesday Niles West had last year).

Sometimes the only thing to keep you from going crazy is a day to yourself. Take that day and enjoy some time alone, that way you can get back to what you need to be doing with hopefully lifted spirits.