Why Mental Health Days Are Needed in Schools


(Image via Texas Public Radio)

Gwendolyn Woods, Writer

Breaks. Everybody needs them every once and awhile. School and work get too much, the family is stressful, hanging out with friends is a chore. That is why mental health days within schools, or at work is an important thing for everyone. When you personally are suffering, your work suffers also. And many times people feel guilty when they take days off to focus on themselves, and try to push through and still show up. Which is a good thing, but also, everyone needs a break sometimes. But it is also hard to know when to take a mental health day, or what to say to your parents or boss when you need one, or even what to do when you take that day off.

It is hard to convince yourself that mental health is just as important as physical health. Often people don’t second guess themselves when they take a day off because they are coughing or throwing up, but when it comes to feeling unmotivated, stressed, or overwhelmed, people often convince themselves that mental health is not a good enough reason to take time off. But it is. Just like when you hurt yourself, or overall are not feeling well, you need to rest. Similarly, when you are feeling mentally unstable you need to step back and rest your brain. There is a difference between waking up and not wanting to go to work or school and feeling so mentally drained that you can’t get out of bed. Of course some days you wake up and feel “off” and it’s okay to take a day off then too, but use your judgment to declare if you should take that day off because your body knows best. And remember it is OKAY to take a day for yourself every once and awhile.

A question many people have when they end up taking a mental health day is, “What do I tell my parents?” Or if you work, “What do I tell my boss?” Now that mental health days are more acceptable in schools, it may be easier to talk to your parents, or guardians and just be honest that you are not feeling okay to go to school. But there’s always that fear that they will tell you to “suck it up” and make it so you still have to go to school. But when it comes to telling your boss, it depends on who they are. If they are understanding, and you’re close with your boss then obviously you can just be upfront and honest and then you need a personal day. But sometimes it’s not that easy. It may be frustrating when you feel as though you can’t openly tell them what is going on, but as long as you blatantly say “I’m sick”, not specifying, it’s fine. When you need time off, it’s okay to brief and not explain every single thing going on, but you shouldn’t feel as though you need to justify your needs.

Just like any sick day, do things that make you feel better. Often people don’t know what to do when you take a mental day. But just like taking sick days, you do things that make you feel better. Maybe like reading a book, napping, maybe even cleaning your house, or reconnecting with a good friend. Just make sure whatever you are doing is relaxing and doesn’t put you in more stress than you already are in. As long as you are giving your brain a break then you are doing it right!

But what’s the takeaway? How do you know that you won’t wake up the next day and feel the same? But overall just taking one day off to focus on yourself, can totally change your mood. And once you take one mental health day it will be easier to take more in the future. The overall goal of a mental health day is not to get out of doing work, it is to relax your brain and reconnect with yourself so you can be happier, and work better every other day. Mental health days are necessary for happy and healthy workplaces for employees and students.

Overall health days are needed, and important within workplaces. It is also OKAY to take a health day when you truly need one. As long as you focus on things that make you happier, and overall healthier then you are spending your time right. Make sure to check in with yourself every once in a while, and remember that mental health days are valid and important to everyone.