A New Solution to the Pressing Issue of Mental Health

Opinion on new legislation for students taking 5 mental health days

With society’s recent awareness of mental health, many actions have been taken to create a global environment that decreases issues that lead to mental illnesses. Along with the move towards destigmatizing mental health, lawmakers have also created and passed bills that play a major role alleviating mental health illnesses. Recently Illinois passed a bill that allows children to take up to 5 mental health days off from school with no penalty. The law goes into effect starting January 2022 across all schools in Illinois. Many other states like Colorado, Connecticut, and Arizona have instated similar bills. 

Allowing for excused mental health days is critical for students to prioritize their mental health without being punished. According to the CDC, trips to the emergency room because of mental health problems increased by 31% in children 12 to 17 years old between March and May of 2020. Considering the statistics regarding mental health in school-aged children, legislative action was not only appropriate for the government of Illinois, but also crucial for the health of the young generation. Stress from school, sports, and social media leave many kids and teenagers facing internal mental battles that seriously affect their quality of life. However the ability to now take a day off from school to relieve stress will make a major impact on the health of children in Illinois. Not to mention there is a limit to the allowed mental health days available to students. This will prevent students abusing the privilege of taking days off too frequently.

The pandemic has significantly increased the strain that today’s students face in school. Teens struggling with social and academic anxiety have become increasingly worried about adapting to the changes that have come with the pandemic. Allowing students to take days to improve their mental health will help those that are currently struggling. Illinois State Representative Barbara Hernandez has expressed her excitement for the policy, believing that “it will help students, parents and teachers, and can help them understand what’s going on in their student’s lives.” Hernandez has also explained the importance of a strong support system. Parents, teachers, and counselors should all be here to support students in whatever they are going through. 

We believe that these mental health days will be extremely beneficial to students. Having first hand experience being senior students in the middle of a pandemic, we understand how valuable having a day off is for students. If a student is going through a crisis and is burnt out at school, they can worry less about how their mental health will impact their studies. This in turn will help destigmatize mental health. It will allow students to better identify when they are feeling challenged mentally, and learn when they need to give themselves a break.