Counterpoint: Mental health days should NOT be a valid excuse to miss school at Schreiber


Dylan Miglio, Contributing Writer

Amid the increase in youth mental health issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, some Schreiber students have hoped for an option that would let them take a mental health day off from school.  While it may seem like a good idea to enable students to be excused from school to improve their mental health, the truth is that mental health days do not contribute any guaranteed benefit upon students.  Not only that, but it will provide unruly students with an easier way to skip school without facing any repercussions. 

The first point that must be addressed in discussions of this topic is how effective mental health days actually are.  The schooling system honors federal and religious holidays that enable students to take a day off from school and not have to worry about the burden of an absence.  But just because a student is able to take a day off from school does not mean that their mental health will magically improve, nor does it mean that they will spend their time productively.  

“A student who chooses to take a mental health day could very well just stay home, browse social media, do nothing to improve their mental health, and probably just worsen it,” said freshman James Welch.  

It is good that schools currently encourage students to go to school to confront their problems with the help of school resources, rather than allowing students to stay home alone and potentially have their mental health decline even more.

“I do believe that this school provides excellent mental health support for students that are in need of assistance.  We have eight school counselors, two school psychologists, and two social workers, all of whom are dedicated to supporting student mental health.  In addition, many students have close relationships with other adults in the building, whether they be teachers or coaches or their assistant principal or any other school official.  Students that are having a hard day or dealing with a crisis are often much better off in school talking to a mental health professional and dealing with their issues than they are home alone,” said Assistant Principal Mr. Weiss.  

Furthermore, there is no clear definition of what actually qualifies a student to take a mental health day.

“For many, a mental health day is a euphemism for just not wanting to come to school on a given day,” said Mr. Weiss.  

It would be hard to come up with concrete qualifications that would permit a student to take a mental health day, and it would likewise be hard for families and school officials to know if any given student actually meets such qualifications.

In fact, many students may just lie about their mental health in order to skip school.

  “People will definitely take advantage of the option so they can skip school, so there needs to be some way to fix that problem,” said freshman Madis Joks.

But what feasible solutions are there really to such a problem? 

“It’s pretty easy to lie and get away with it since it is difficult to tell whether or not people are being truthful about their mental health.” says freshman Joshua Levine.  

It is nearly impossible to climb into someone’s mind and figure out the exact mental state that they are in, and that is what makes taking a mental health day so different from being excused for a family death, or for a physical sickness.  By legitimizing this option, the school would be providing students with an easier method to excuse skipping school.  

While providing a mental health day as a valid excuse for an absence may seem to have its advantages, no benefits are guaranteed.  It is also best that a student confronts their problems with the resources provided at school, instead of being left at home to potentially do nothing to improve their mental health. The school should not encourage students to face their problems alone at home, nor should it provide unruly students with an easier defense to miss school.