Staff editorial: mental health days prove necessary

Children across Plainfield School District 202, Illinois, the United States, and the world face a multitude of serious issues thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, a notable repercussion being the ever-increasing mental health crisis. 

The first step to solving the crisis is a strong and continued effort to let students know they have the ability to take five mental health days off from school beginning in January. Thanks to a grand step in the right direction Governor JB Pritzker signed into law in early September.

As teens continue trudging through SAT testing, college application deadlines, and the epic highs and lows of classes, homework, and, overall, surviving, the knowledge of the new mental health day policy is essential for students as they continue to navigate the oftentimes tumultuous nature of high school.

Certainly, student well being most often starts at home, and parents must be factored into this situation.

One of the most helpful actions a person can take is to prioritize mental health over grades.

If a child was admitted to a hospital for a physical condition, the automatic thought would not be to mold the child back into shape with school work. Neither should that be the response when a child is suffering from a rough day or struggling with mental health issues.

A momentary NHI may be worth an extra hour of sleep for some students, and the same goes for missing a day of school. Is that really so revolutionary?

Just as students need to take time to recover from sickness, like with a cold (or, yes, COVID-19), not feeling well mentally is a completely valid reason to forgo school for one day. 

Prioritizing one’s self is incredibly important, and not overwhelming the already vulnerable proves absolutely necessary to take steps down the path towards recovery – and the five mental health day plan remains, once again, a big step in the right direction.

Ultimately, the platitude “It’s okay to not be okay” holds true. But for all, there’s still more work to be done to hold up one’s common man, especially in the plight for helping students’ mental health.

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