Why Mental Health Days Are Important


Meghan Braddy, Copy Editor

Mental health matters more today than any other period of time that humans have lived on the Earth. As life goes on, more issues begin to surface, more challenges arise, and life as we know it will not reflect that of our care-free youth. The generation of people that end up dealing with more mental health problems than they should ever have to are the younger generation, or more specifically, teenagers. Becoming a teenager and going through puberty into young adolescence is a time filled with important decisions to make about the future and what one is going to do with their life. It differs if you’re an adult who already has their future plan, or a young child who doesn’t need these concerns yet. Teenagers are placed exactly in the middle of the spectrum, especially because of the stress of going to high school. High school brings upon the issues of fitting into social norms and acquiring good enough grades to graduate. With all of the stressors that teenagers have to face in their everyday lives, the development of some mental health issues is evident. It’s imperative to deal with the issues in a healthful way, instead of neglecting them or adding even more stressors into daily routines. Whether a teenager is struggling with a diagnosed disorder like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or they are experiencing a temporarily low point in their lives, mental health should be a main focus on everyone’s minds. If approximately one in five teens from the ages of 12 to 18 years old suffer from at least one mental health disorder, it should be socially acceptable to allow mental health days for students in high school in order for them to take a break and process their emotions.

Mental health days are far more important than most may think. While some students may use them just as an excuse to avoid their problems or blow off school, others utilize mental health days as a way for them to center themselves when they feel like they have fallen off course. These days allow students to take a deep breath and focus on relaxing activities rather than ones that provide them with unnecessary stress. It’s a healthful alternative to dealing with negative emotions, especially if you feel you’re on the verge of a nervous breakdown. There have been many prevalent situations where students felt that they couldn’t take a mental health day from school, even if they went to school that day feeling anxious or emotionally drained. I relate to this; during my freshman year of high school, I went to school one day not feeling like myself, and I knew something was off. All I could think about was all of the stressors I was dealing with, especially with my school assignments and extra-curricular activities I had going on in my life at the time. I’ve always been a complete perfectionist with everything I did in my life, so I applied this to school above all things. That day, I went to school thinking about all of the mistakes I had made recently, like how I should have known how to solve that equation or answer that question better than I did. I must have gotten half-way through the day when I realized that I was in trouble, but I felt like I couldn’t go home. I wasn’t physically ill or hurt. There wasn’t actually anything wrong with me. I was just having intense anxiety that I had never experienced before. That day at school was the day I reached my breaking point, and I had my first pretty serious panic attack. The worst part about it was that it happened during school, a place where I was not prepared to deal with any type of mental health situation. Everything after that was kind of a blur. I remember my hands growing sweaty and feeling like I was just going to completely fall apart at any minute. I ran to the bathroom, locked myself in a stall, and frantically called my mother begging her to come pick me up. I was screaming and crying on the phone with her. I could hear other people in the bathroom with me, but I couldn’t contain my emotions. I was completely stressed out and undeniably anxious because I felt like I was screwing everything up in my life. Staying home from school that day could have prevented that situation from happening, and I could’ve processed my built-up emotions in a controlled setting. At the time, I didn’t think I could stay home and I didn’t realize how important it would have been if I had. This is why I strongly believe in the importance of mental health days for teenagers. If I could prevent other teenagers from going through what I went through that day, I would. An even worse aspect is that I know that there are more people around me who probably have gone through even worse situations and never took a mental health day when they needed it the most. 

Mental health disorders can have a significant impact on daily life and overall well being, and depending on what type of disorder, they may affect relationships, physical health, and even overall academic performance. Taking a mental health day is so crucial in dealing with anything that may be bothering a person who is dealing with these disorders to the point where they start feeling much more down than usual, lack the motivation to do anything, or can’t even deal with social situations. At the end of the day, mental health days keep your brain healthy. No matter who you are or what you’re going through, taking a mental health day will always be important if it will help you to relax by processing emotions in a healthy way. Some people may feel like they might need a mental health day but won’t feel productive if they take it; this is false! You can still be productive while centering yourself on a mental health day, because you’ll be productively taking care of yourself. There are so many stress-free activities you can complete while on a mental health day, and they all focus on relaxation, regulating emotions, and re-energizing yourself (I like to call them the three R’s for short). Some activities that can be completed for a successful mental health day are:

  • Going for Walk 
  • Exploring Nature 
  • Getting a Massage 
  • Reading a Book
  • Going Shopping 
  • Sleeping 
  • Talking to Your Mom or a Trusted Adult/Individual (This one is my personal favorite!)
  • Drinking Hot Tea
  • Taking a Bath 

I’m a junior in high school now. The other day, I was starting to feel intense anxiety and emotional drainage again like I did during my freshman year, and I made the right decision and decided to take a mental health day for myself. I spent the day crying out all of my emotions and watching television with my mom, but I also took a nap. The next day, I woke up feeling re-energized and ready for the day. I wasn’t feeling as stressed since I took a break from school, and even though I felt guilty about missing a day, it was one of the best days of my life. I took care of myself and realized that I needed a day to get away from it all, and it helped. I recognized that I needed help, and that was the most rewarding aspect of it all. Teenagers should never feel afraid to do what’s best for them in their time of need, because self care is more important now more than ever. Mental health days aren’t the solution to mental health disorders, but they definitely help to relieve and process the negative emotions that come with them in a healthy way.