Some schools are allowing teens to take mental health days off. Last year Utah started allowing students to take mental sick days. This year, thanks to a couple of student activists, Oregon is now allowing students to take days off for mental health as well. Since there has been a rise in depression, anxiety, and suicide rates for young people, this may not be a bad idea for other states to jump on the bandwagon with this idea. A lot of the young activists have encountered many skeptical lawmakers worried that some students would use them as an excuse to skip school or that it would coddle young people.
The idea started in Oregon by a couple of students at a summer camp for student leaders from high schools throughout the state. They do understand the push back they received, but want student voices to be heard. In an article by The Washington Post, high school senior Derek Evans makes a great point in that “the bottom line of it is there will always be students that will abuse the system, but there will be students that this will save.” He goes on to talk about his struggles with anxiety and depression while trying to maintain his longtime 4.0 student status. He was warned by administrators that he would FAIL if he did not return to school immediately after taking four days off for mental health. It is dumbfounding that students are forced to go to school with little regard to their mental health, while most schools have issues dealing with bullying. Not to mention students having to juggle piles of homework and projects, grades, college applications, extracurricular activities, work if they are of age, and some students do not get to go home to a loving and safe environment at the end of the day. With all of these factors, it is easy to see why it should be considered that students be able to take mental sick days.
Some people think it can be a big help for our young people since studies studies shown by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that the rate of suicide increased by 56 percent from 2007 to 2017 among the ages of 10 to 24. The Washington Post also stated that in recent years, suicide has become the second most common cause of death among teens and young adults. That is a considerable age gap, yet they are all suffering from the same issue. There can be many different causes that can explain why mental health issues vary in ages. It could be a lack of community, bullying, social media use, lack of sleep, and many other factors.
Allowing students to take mental sick days can also help parents and counselors to take notice when something is wrong or seems off and can start conversations. Since the law has been signed, Oregon students have been helping other student leaders in other states to get similar laws passed, and have moved on to try and get a second bill passed that would incorporate mental health into physical-health checkups every year. One thing is for sure, this issue is not just in one state; it is nationwide. The sad fact is, there is still a stigma around mental health and talking about it that we still have a long way to go.