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Why Students Need Mental Health Days Off School
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, “Approximately 1 in 5 children and youth in Ontario has a mental health challenge. About 70% of mental health challenges have their onset in childhood or youth.”
Stress and mental health go hand-in-hand. When people are stressed, it can cause mental health issues. Having mental health issues can make stress harder to deal with. And school stress is common with youth as well. Some students may be even more stressed than adults!
Heavy workload, too much homework, upcoming tests, harder classes, worry about the future are all things that can cause a student to be stressed. There can also be social stressors such as peer pressure, bullying, fitting in, teenage drama, extracurricular activities.
Students are in school 7-8 hours a day, five days a week, then they go home only to do more schoolwork. When you consider that and add in time to eat and sleep, and sometimes a part-time job, when are youth supposed to practice self-care and take care of their mental health?
Wendi Duggan is a mother of four, with two of those kids still in school. She gives her kids mental health days off every once in a while, especially when they feel things are becoming too much. She did the same when her older kids were in school, as well.
“I will always encourage them to put themselves and their mental health as a top priority in their life and mine,” she said.
For Wendi and her kids, these days are about self-care, relaxing, their favorite things, and just hanging out together. “Connection is the key, so we do things to try and stay connected.”
Mental health is something that is frequently talked about in Duggan’s household. The kids know that they can tell mom and dad that they just aren’t feeling themselves.
Wendi and common-law partner/kids’ father know what that means and feel like, and know what can happen if they ignore it, so they don’t. They acknowledge and address it.
Wendi encourages other parents to allow the same for their kids. “I feel all parents should help their child by allowing mental health days and be showing them what self-care looks like.” She also encourages parents to do the same for themselves so that kids can observe what it’s like to take care of ourselves.