A group of high school students in Oregon drafted a bill that was recently signed into state law allowing students to take “mental health days” off from school. While this law won’t increase the total number of days that students in the state can be absent from school, it lets students be honest about the reason why they needed to take a day off.
Erasing Social Stigma
With suicide as the second leading cause of death in the state in people from the ages of 10 to 34, the students who drafted the bill say they came up with the idea to help eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health issues.
While the new law has received a positive response, there has been some pushback. Some argue that students have always been able to take “mental health days” by pretending that they were sick or lying about the reason for their absence.
The students argue, however, that the point of the bill is to encourage students to be open and honest about their struggles with the hope that more people struggling with mental health issues will seek help. If physical illness is an acceptable reason to miss school, they argue, so should mental illness.
How to Know When Your Child Needs a Mental Health Day
As a parent, it can be difficult to tell when your child might really need a break and when it’s appropriate to encourage him or her to “push through” a difficult situation, such as giving a big presentation at school.
If your child is showing signs of depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues that affect his or her ability to function, taking a mental health day to talk about these feelings could be beneficial.
Know that there are many community resources available if you or your child is struggling with mental illness. We’ve compiled a list of mental health resources in Allegheny County here. Please do not hesitate to contact the Foundation if you need assistance in finding additional resources.