Hello mental health champions, how are you doing?
Today I wanted to chat about what mental health days are and if they should be considered sick days in my own opinion. And as my frequent readers may have guessed, I absolutely think they should be built in as sick days for employees and should be allowed as an excuse to miss school. I would even go further to say that I believe each student should be allowed 3-5 days of mental health days throughout the year. I know if I had these, I would have felt a lot safer and more comfortable with school.
For people that struggle with mental health disorders, there are a lot of days where things just don’t work out and going to school is a million times harder. I have had a lot of days where I barely made it through the day because of emotional exhaustion related to my disorders. As we all know, with depression, it can be challenging to get out of bed a lot of days. Sometimes we have to but that still doesn’t make it any easier when trying to get through the day. There have been times after family tragedies or hardships where getting through the day was beyond tough. I have had many instances of having a breakdown at school that was embarrassing and difficult. If I could have taken a mental health day, it would have helped a lot. I was lucky enough that my mom would allow me from time to time to take a day to myself. The only hard part about calling in sick when you need a mental health day is that you are then going to fall behind. The problem I had with this is that I would then feel ten times more anxious worrying about what I had missed. I also think the same with sick days. You can’t control when you get sick and have to miss school and you can’t always control your mental health either. I think it would be so beneficial if there was a way for students to get a couple free homework passes or something to help ease the anxiety of missing a day, especially if this is a mental health day. Like I said, I used to need to miss a day for my mental health but then the anxiety I would have when I returned back to school was off the charts because of what I had missed. I know there would be no easy way to amend this, but it would be helpful if there was a way to figure it out.
Another reason kids need mental health days is because ONE IN SIX kids between the ages of 6-17 have a mental health disorder. That means there are a LOT of youngins struggling with these disorders that may need mental health days. Not to mention, mental health disorders can contribute to why kids may be having a hard time in school. Some symptoms of mental health disorders can be irritability, children isolating themselves, kids having emotional outbursts, etc. It can be incredibly hard for a child to learn when their mental state is not in a good place. It can also make it harder for other children to learn if they notice there are issues with their classmate(s).
I also think it can be easy to forget just how challenging adolescence is. I remember having a hard time with each new grade and new year and how things are constantly changing at that age. I was bullied in seventh grade and then friendly and well liked in eighth grade. Friendships shift constantly and middle school is where young relationships start to form and that can be so confusing for young people. I genuinely think that time in their lives can be so challenging. It is also the same with high school. High school was honestly a pretty awful experience for me and I did counseling throughout to navigate the relationships, friendships, changes in becoming a young adult, etc. Most of you know I also had severe panic attacks almost everyday for months and it would have been nice to at least just have the option to take a day off once in a while. The amount of exhaustion you can feel after battling your brain is insurmountable. It was very hard to get through school and work everyday. You also have to throw in the pressure these kids are under. In high school, all these poor kids are bugged about where they’re going to college. There is so much pressure to do well and a lot of kids can’t handle that kind of pressure and it can cause them to lash out or grow anxious and develop disorders. You also have the kids trying to get a sports scholarship which offers even more pressure. That is a LOT for a young kid to figure out and deal with. You also have to factor in that all these kids have home lives and you NEVER know what goes on behind closed doors. So many kids have parents getting divorced, sick family members, contention in the home, and so many other issues that they deal with that no one knows about. Once again, that adds another layer of anxiety and stress which can for sure wear these kids down.
One other interesting thing we can add to this is the fact that mental health issues and emotional stress can manifest as physical health issues too. A lot of times, when kids don’t know how to process what they are feeling or take care of themselves, their bodies can hold that stress in other areas. When you are stressed out, your cortisol levels in your body will increase which can throw off your immune system and so many other important functions in your body. This can cause illnesses with no diagnoses since they are due to stress. This is also something to think about for children who seem to be sick a lot with little explanation as to why. Of course, get your child looked at and tested if they’re having issues, but if testing comes back normal, there is a big chance that it is because of stress and their bodies trying to adapt.
Being young isn’t as carefree and easy as it may seem to some. Children are learning and adapting and changing at such a fast pace. They need support and mental health days would be an incredible way to help. I am going to drop some petitions below you can sign to further the agenda of getting mental health days.
Talk to you soon brain battlers, Gracie <3
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