Mental Health Days

Grace Ellison, Staff Writer

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According to Psychology Today, “The average high school kid today has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950’s”. With the amount of tasks and activities students have to handle every day it’s easy see the origination of this high level of anxiety. 

Students at Wheaton Warrenville South High School are desperate for a solution to help  control their stress and anxiety. A senior at South, Zoe Jethani, has found a solution of her own. She calls them mental health days and she takes about 4 or 5 of them every school year. On her mental health days she, “sleeps in and catches up on work”. Jethani usually takes these days off during her most stressful parts of the year, such as finals week or even a week that is so busy she doesn’t have much time to do work. “I feel less stressed and more prepared for the rest of the school week”. She has felt results from these days off once she could finally focus on catching up on work, reducing her feeling of being overwhelmed.

Mental health days seem to be the only solution to help students control the amount of work and activities they have to handle outside of school. However there are other options in school for students needing more advice and support–high school counselors. However, the National Association of Secondary School Principals reports that “By the 2014–15 school year, there was one school counselor for every 482 students. The recommended ratio from the American School Counseling Association is one school counselor for every 250 students”. Counselors are supposed to care for each student individually and meet each one’s needs, but it’s hard to keep track of more than 482 students and the unique life of each one. 

However a good support system at school is important for students to get the attention they deserve and keep in check with them if their families can’t. The National School of Psychologists states that “Schools offer an ideal context for prevention, intervention, positive development, and regular communication between school and families”. Even though counselors can’t give their all to each student, those in need of immediate help can have a strong support system. On the other hand, the school environment could be the whole reason for stress and anxiety in students.

The Washington Post reports that “83 percent of teens said that school was “a somewhat or significant source of stress”. Taking this in account, it’s clear that something needs to be done to help students cope with the stress of today’s life. “I think that mental health is an issue and needs to be addressed on a more day-to-day basis with students and teachers” says Jethani. Students can get so caught up in the idea of perfection that they forget their own health should be first priority. Yet she isn’t the only one who thinks this mental health days are beneficial. Fiona Deguzman, a senior at South, takes those days to “recharge when the pressures of school and outside activities are too overwhelming”. 

High school students are calling out for help and are looking for the school district to pay attention to the needs of stressed students. If the school was to give a student one mental health day each semester, students could finally use a day to improve their productivity and lifestyle, leading to better habits for the future.