OPINION: Let’s Talk Mental Health

May 19 is Mental Health Action Day

BY MADISON OSBORNE, STAFF WRITER

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and May 19 is Mental Health Action Day.

More and more states and workplaces are implementing Mental Health Days into their schedules, but what about schools? 

The push for student mental health days began in 2019, when Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill expanding the state’s category of excused absences to include those related to mental as well as physical health, according to The CDC

Also according to CDC.gov, ADHD, anxiety problems, behavior problems, and depression are the most common mental disorders in children. ADHD 9.8% approximately 6.0 million, Anxiety 9.4% approximately 5.8 million, Behavior problems 8.9% approximately 5.5 million, Depression 4.4% approximately 2.7 million.

Barbara Solish, director of youth and young adult initiatives at the National Alliance on Mental Illness, says that mental health days offer students “the opportunity to pause, check-in, and recharge physically and emotionally. If a kid was feeling physically crummy, we wouldn’t hesitate to give that kid a day to rest and recover. The same goes for emotional wellbeing.” 

Solish also said, “This time can be helpful for children who struggle with anxiety or depression, or even kids who’ve just had a rough week.”

For those of you who are wondering if weekends are enough for teens to recharge and reset, sometimes they’re not. If you suffer from anxiety, depression, or other mental illnesses you know how hard some days can be, your mental health affects how you think, act, and feel so somedays going to school and work just really aren’t an option.

Of course, students need a little bit of stress to build resilience and become successful but Understood.org says that “The problem comes when the work and the stress are nonstop.” 

That can really take a toll on students. The stress people feel can turn to anxiety, and the exhaustion can affect how well they perform certain tasks. And their motivation levels can drop drastically and very rapidly.

Hailey Hardcastle, one of the leaders of Students for a Healthy Oregon, said in a TED Talk that she suffered from clinical depression herself and that her mother allowed her to stay home from school up to three days per semester to cope. 

“This not only will start teaching kids to take care of themselves and practice self-care and stress management, but it could also literally help save lives,” Hardcastle said.

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, the Sanford girls lacrosse team is dedicating their May 20 home game to Morgan’s Message. Read the full article here

So, what might mental health days mean at SHS or for its students? It means that on days you wake up and your anxiety is through the roof, or your depression won’t let you out of bed, or when you’re burnt out and need a day of recovery to come back the next day better and tell yourself that it’s okay. That day off you need is okay. Your work will still be there when you feel better, and when you feel better your work will be better which in the long run will help you out.

But, make sure you understand that you are not alone and there are resources to help you. Talk to someone you trust and know where you can find help. When in doubt, talk to your school counselor, and know that you belong, you matter, and help is available to get you through it.


If you or someone you know struggles with suicidal thoughts, reach out to a trained professional for help. Head to afsp.org or:

National Alliance on Mental Illness: 1-800-950-6264

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741

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