As the years pass, schools all around the world change and advance their curriculum. While this excels some students’ minds, it only damages others. With the hardening of school work partnered with individual problems at home, it would benefit LPHS to allow students to take mental health days.
Since LPHS has introduced this year’s new attendance policy, if a student surpasses nine absences, it will count against his or her grades whether or not it’s excused. Because of this, many students are showing up to school even if they have reason not to.
In recent years, mental instability among teens has been consistently rising. According to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 13% of teens from the United States experienced at least one major depressive episode during the year.
Cities in Oregon recently passed a bill that allows students to take five mental health days per semester after a school fought for it. States such as Florida, Utah, and New York have also been taking steps towards offering mental health days.
Those opposed to the idea of mental health days may say that students should just take one of the nine days offered to cater to their mental stability; however, with 18 weeks in a semester, that would mean a student is expected to show up 90 days per semester. Fitting mental, physical, emotional, and social health into nine out of 90 days just doesn’t work for some students.
Students around the country found motivation to raise awareness and change the stigma around mental health after last year’s Parkland, Florida, school shooting.
Since this new policy has been in effect, students have found classes to be more exciting, and mental health stability has increased as a whole.
With this evidence, it would make sense for LPHS students to benefit from mental health days. Many argue that adding this to schools will only cause students to coddle themselves, skip class, or develop a lying habit; however, most students disagree.
LPHS junior Nevaeh Mendoza said, “It wouldn’t coddle us too much. Compared to past generations, we have a much higher suicide rate. Our school offers support, but obviously, since those numbers have been consistent over the past years, nothing is really happening. We shouldn’t be this young and have this many mental issues.”
While the idea of offering mental health days seems great, it can’t be proven that certain students wouldn’t take advantage of this; however, LPHS does offer assistance to struggling students.
“Throughout the school year, the SRT team offers lessons related to mental health topics,” Mrs. Rosenbaum, counselor for Slicer Support Services, said. “Students may seek assistance from their school counselor, or a trusted adult, such as a teacher, coach, or staff member when feeling anxious or depressed. Also, LPHS is in the process of developing support groups for students dealing with anxiety that will be offered by Slicer Support Services.”
SRT presentations may help sometimes, but mental health is an everyday thing. Mental health isn’t just a day off, and some schools have taken extra steps to help students.
Valparaiso school systems have introduced a 14 week-old English cream golden retriever named Thor. In the Chicago Tribune, Allison Hadley, the district’s communication coordinator, said, “Therapy dogs in schools have been found to reduce stress and anxiety, especially during testing times.”
The article also says, “The first few days of school, an upset student came into the office. Monroe brought out Thor and, within seconds, she and the student were both on the floor playing with the puppy. Some students count on seeing Thor every day, Monroe said, adding the dog also provides a breakthrough for students with special needs.”
While LPHS searches for a solution to a problem so desperately in need of attention, students who are struggling can start helping themselves by accepting their situation, writing about their emotions, spending time with the people they love, or seeking help outside of school.
Slicers can also reach out to LPHS’ Slicer Support Services. Rosenbaum runs this program in hopes of helping students who need help with drug and suicide prevention and grief. Students seeking help from their own counselors can get appointments with them right away if it is an emergency. If not, they can put in a pass to see them.
The Crisis Line is available 24/7 via phone at 1-800-273-8255 or text 741741. Callers can speak with a trained professional about anxiety, depression, or any other concerns. The Trevor Line is also available 24/7 for LGBTQ students by calling 1-866-488-7386.