Mental health days should be a valid excuse to miss school at Schreiber

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Sadie Muller, Staff Writer

Students’ mental health, especially in high school and college, has become an increasingly important issue in recent years.  Today, students generally have more academic and extracurricular responsibilities than in the past; having to juggle many activities at once can be overwhelming, as they rarely get to relax and decompress.  With the recent pandemic, students’ academic and social lives have been disrupted.  According to a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, 71 percent of college students reported that they have experienced increased anxiety and poorer mental health since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 “Having to do school remotely was stressful, and it was difficult to not be able to see the people I care about during quarantine,” said sophomore Tess Romero.  

Going back to school in person has been a difficult adjustment for many students.  It is now more important than ever that students of all ages take care of their mental health and give themselves a break when necessary in order to maintain balance in their lives.  

 Since mental health is such an important issue, several states across the U.S. have made the decision to allow students to be excused from school for mental health days.  At Schreiber, students are not allowed to miss school for mental health reasons, so, many will lie about their reasons for missing school or not take days off when needed.  Due to COVID-19 restrictions, if a student claims to miss school because they are feeling sick, they are required to get a COVID-19 test before returning to school.  This causes students to miss more days of school, which can in turn increase stress.  

“Mental health is a really important issue that all schools should make an effort to address,” said sophomore Jillian Kerrane. 

In a society where adults put a lot of pressure on youth to maintain good grades, teenagers’ mental health should be of the utmost importance.  Mental health days give students the opportunity to give themselves a break from anxiety-causing activities and responsibilities, and a chance to regain motivation and energy.  In regards to academics, having a healthy mental state is crucial in maintaining good grades.  

“I always feel more prepared  for a big test or difficult assignment when I get enough sleep and take care of myself,” said sophomore Holly Sternlicht.

Working for extended periods of time, especially for advanced academic students, can take a lot of energy, and it is easy to lose concentration and motivation.  According to a 2016 study conducted at the University of Connecticut, high levels of stress in combination with lack of sleep negatively impact academic achievement in teenagers.  It is more difficult for students to retain information they learn in school when they are under stress or struggling with mental illness.  Mental health days give students the opportunity to prevent themselves from being spread too thin.

Maintaining good mental health is also extremely important for student-athletes.  According to a 2014 study published in the Sports Medicine journal, not getting enough sleep can negatively impact athletic performance and increase risk of injury.  Similarly, high stress levels can cause a decrease in athletic performance and overall enjoyment of playing a sport. 

“As a year-round athlete, I know how important it is for me to take care of my mental health because of how stress and anxiety can affect my physical health,” said sophomore student athlete, Eve Siff-Scherr. 

Taking mental health days can be an effective method of self-care that students and families should be trusted to use appropriately—not as an excuse to miss school or get out of taking a test—as they ultimately know best about their own well-being.  Schreiber should allow students to miss school on the basis of mental health because of how important good mental health is in regards to students’ academics, social lives, and physical health.