Should Students Be Able to Take Mental Health Days in School?
Depression and anxiety rates in teens have steadily increased over time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teen mental health is now a significant concern. To combat rising rates of teen mental health issues, some lawmakers are looking at ways to help. Senator Brad Hoylman of New York has introduced legislation that would allow students to take time off school for mental health days. The legislation highlights the importance of mental wellness, and schools may follow employers who have already developed mental health day programs.
According to CNBC, half of millennials and 75% of the Generation Z population have left jobs for mental health reasons. Large companies such as Cisco have begun introducing programs that help people with mental health and substance use disorders.
Stress could be playing a large role in teen mental health problems. According to Pew Research Center, teens face a significant amount of pressure. For example, 61% say they experience academic pressure, and 29% say there’s pressure to look good. Around 28% feel pressure to fit in socially.
NY State Considers Allowing Students to Take Days Off for Mental Health
Senator Hoylman spoke out about his proposed legislation, saying he feels it’s an important step to take — especially as young people today experience higher risks of suicide. He believes mental illness is something that can’t go unnoticed. The hope is that the creation of mental health days will bring awareness to students, teachers, and families.
Around 70% of teens in the United States say anxiety and depression are major problems. While the idea of mental health days for students has support, there is opposition to the idea as well. For example, some feel that it could be used as an excuse to miss school or could lead students to be bullied for taking a mental health day.
Goals of a Day Off Are to Alleviate Stress and Raise Awareness
Along with general teen mental health awareness, many hope the implementation of mental health days in New York schools will provide a warning to parents and educators. For example, it could help show when students need to be checked on to see if they’re struggling. The new law would also align the importance of mental health with that of physical health.
Parents have voiced support for the proposed law because it could reduce teen stress and pressure. Students wouldn’t have to lie about why they’re staying home, and it could help promote conversations about mental health.
Mental Health Days Meant to Ignite Support for Other Resources
According to Hoylman, the law would help support mental health services in schools. It would show that more resources are needed, such as additional clinicians and school psychologists. Under the proposal, the New York State Department of Education would likely work with local school boards on the specifics of the program. For example, they would discern how many mental health days students are provided.
Students may feel school is where the majority of their mental health problems are created. For example, bullying, peer pressure, and academic stress are all concentrated in the school environment. Mental health days could provide what Hoylman describes as a safe harbor from these factors.
Mental health resources for teens need to be more widely and readily available. The proposed mental health days in New York could help facilitate a conversation that leads to more mental health resources in schools.
If you have a teen in your family who is dealing with a substance use disorder and co-occurring mental health issue, Next Generation Village is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about treatment options that can work well for your child.
New York CBS Local. “New York Lawmakers Consider Letting Kids Take Mental Health Days From School.” September 9, 2019. Accessed October 14, 2019.
Horowitz, Juliana; Graf, Nikki. “Most U.S. Teens See Anxiety and Depression As a Major Problem Among Their Peers.” Pew Research Center, February 20, 2019. Accessed February 14, 2019.
Wasserman, Todd. “Half of millennials and 75% of Gen Zers have left their job for mental health reasons.” CNBC, October 11, 2019. Accessed October 14, 2019.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Children’s Mental Health.” Accessed October 14, 2019.