Stressed Students Require Mental Health Days by Elise Papke

Imagine waking up in the morning, and your head spins. Your hands begin to shake, and your body trembles. Your breathing is quick and short, your stomach ties itself in knots, and all you can do is sink to the floor and hope it will all pass in time for you to go to school. You are experiencing a panic attack.

Mental health affects how we think, feel, and act. Stress can build up and take a negative toll on your mental and physical health. And the worst part? Mental breakdowns and anxiety/panic attacks can happen to anyone – even students without mental health disorders. Students are forced to attend school, even when they feel like their world is falling apart. 

Good mental health allows students to work productively and learn. Students don’t have the energy or motivation to come to school when they’ve just had a mental breakdown, and sending them to school would only make it worse. They should not have to go to school when they’re having a bad mental health day.

Some feel like they don’t have a choice. “I would have to go to school even though I wouldn’t be able to get through the day. There are some days that you could not pay me enough to go to school,” said an anonymous Nation Ford student.

Currently in the Fort Mill School district, students may only be excused from school if they are sick, a family member is severely ill or passed, or they have a scheduled doctor or dentist appointment. But they can’t stay home when they are emotionally breaking down? Mental health affects how you learn more than anything else, which is why it’s important to treat mental health as a major part of students’ lives.

According to the Association of Children’s Mental Health, students with mental health disorders may have trouble starting or finishing school work. This causes them to be overly stressed, and can lead to bad mental health days. One thing the ACMH says can help students is allowing them to take breaks and de-stress. Over half of students that participated in an anonymous survey stated they stayed home at least once due to their mental health.

If our legal absence days included mental health days, students overall health and grades would improve. Excused physical illness days could be extended to mental health days as well, and students would need to bring a parent or doctors note the next day.

Not all students come to school smiling and ready to learn. Some are hurting, and feel like they can’t meet certain expectations. On days when their mental health is especially bad, students should be allowed to stay home and get it under control, so they can come back the next day and be able to focus on what they’re being taught. The school district needs to stretch the limitations on excused absences to include mental health days. Some students need a break.

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