Students deserve mental health days

Does the mental health of teachers supercede that of students? Comparing the teacher contract to student policies, one might come to this conclusion. And with high school students under so much pressure, a predetermined number of built-in “mental health days” for students would help alleviate tension. 

Despite the negative stigma, I have taken a few “mental health days” throughout my high school career and have found it extremely beneficial. But ignoring my mental state only worsened it, and I ended up in the hospital for a week.

Aside from the time spent learning how to manage stress and getting the opportunity to relax, I was immediately thrown back into coursework and lessons, on top of the lessons I had missed while gone. I found myself quickly drowning, reverting back to the ball of anxiety and pressure just waiting to explode again. 

According to the approved teacher contract, teachers are entitled to ten sick days and five personal days each year. Built into those sick days are allowances to miss work for family illnesses and appointments.

The unused personal days carry over as sick days for years to come, extending throughout their teaching careers.

Students would benefit from a similar and fair policy.

In contrast to teachers, students are allowed 10 unexcused absences before they are considered excessive, and we are asked to show proof of funeral services for bereavement and doctor’s notes for three consecutive absences. While this policy is acceptable, qualms exist over other demands. 

In some cases, absences also result in loss of senior incentive and the ability to waive a final.

“I feel like there is a clear double standard of them prioritizing one group over another,” sophomore Isam Sayeed says. “They’re saying, ‘Oh we care enough about teachers to provide them with a thing where they can have some self care,’ but then for their students, they’re saying, ‘Oh well, you’re hung out to dry. You’re not paid salary people. If your work doesn’t depend on you being mentally healthy and we’re not paying you, then it doesn’t matter’”.

Some believe that the solution to this is simply not missing school. 

However, it isn’t always a straightforward fix. In addition to doctors appointments, family emergencies, health issues and unforeseen circumstances, such as missing the bus, students sometimes need days where they are able to stay home to catch up on work or just get a chance to destress. 

This would include receiving work the day before or getting alternate assignments for those days if there are group activities. This is the same policy used for students going on field trips and is a familiar method for teachers.

Putting it into practice with mental health days wouldn’t be difficult. 

Mental health in students is something that should always be a priority, and despite the school’s efforts, it still isn’t perfect. This is why alternative solutions and policies such as this are important game changers.