• Samantha Amonette

Mental health days: States approve excused absences

As school starts, students have to adjust to the habit of starting their day earlier than they did in the summer. The transition for some kids is rough, and they ease into it slower rather than other students. For others, the stress from the sudden pile on of homework or the AP/honor classes workload can lead to a decline in mental health.

With the stress, schools are implementing mental health days, which I believe could decrease the amount of stress for students and could leave to improved health for our nation’s teenagers.

Mental health days all for students to refresh and reset themselves, putting them in a better mood to learn. It can also be a time to heal as some kids get bullied and need a break for a day. The mental health day gives students an opportunity to speak up about their needs and break the stigma around the topic as most students believe people are going to judge them and not believe their suffering.

In the United States, 6.5 million kids miss around 10 percent of school a school year, according to healthychildren.org. Three out of the four reasons for why students miss school is due to mental health related problems such a school related anxiety.

According to attendanceworks.org, these were the five leading causes for absences in teens: I wasn’t feeling well (79 percent), I had obligations with my family (40 percent), I didn’t feel like it (21 percent), I didn’t do my homework/study for a test (17 percent) and I didn’t have a ride (10 percent).

Olentangy Local Schools allows 38 or more hours in one month or 65 or more hours in one school year for absences and tardies according to the student handbook. For some people with disabilities, illnesses and surgeries, it’s easy for them to rack up those absences.

Some school districts excuse absences for mental health days. On July 1, a law in Oregon passed that gives students five mental health days every three months, according to house bill 2191.

In Utah, they changed the definition of a valid excuse to miss a day of school to include physical and mental illness, according to house bill 234. The usage of mental paper is to refresh and refocus and reduce stress. The reason for mental health health days that range from if your having a bad day or you have a type of therapy appointment.

The bill was inspired by the politically active students in Parkland, Florida. The legislators who purposed the bill believe it’s a model for other states to follow and is a step in the right direction for the countries state of mental health.

The bill was put in place to combat the rising rates of children suicide in the United States and to shine a light on the conversation of mental health in schools. The suicide rate has increased in the two states that introduced the laws compared to the national average, which has seen an increase by 25.4 percent from 1999-2016. The rate has increased 28.2 percent in Oregon and 46.5 percent in Utah. The leading cause for these deaths is undetected mental illnesses, according to cdc.gov.

The factors that contribute to missing school, we should find a way to give students more time to be absent. Last year I missed over the limit because I was always sick. The limit I feel should be increased to 50 hours in one month because the kids wouldnt feel as much as a stress to ration out there absences and go to school even when mentally or physically sick.

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