Mental health days help students focus on their emotional wellness


Ava Stone

Overwhelming conditions can lead to increased stress among students.

Lindsey Hall and Madison Moon

With the approach of final exams, many students are reporting elevated stress levels and anxiety. Mental health days serve as an available tool to allow students time to recharge and focus on their emotional wellness.

All Illinois students receive five mental health days per year, without the need for a doctor’s note. These are classified as excused absences. According to The Indian Prairie School District (IPSD) 204, anxiety, depression, or indicators of somatic symptoms, such as throwing up and headaches, all constitute a mental health day. Mental health days are not allowed to be used for extended vacations or breaks.

School social worker, Sarah Bathan, emphasized the importance of mental health days for students.

“If a student feels like they need to take some time for their mental health, there should not be any stigma about that,” Bathan said. “It means that they are doing a good job taking care of themselves. To be the best student or friend that they can be, [students] need to focus on their mental health.”

January 2022 was the first-month students were capable of taking a mental health day. Its creation was due to increased mental health struggles connected to COVID-19 and isolation.

“Mental health days were a response to the increasing mental health needs among children after the pandemic since the pandemic did surface a lot of mental health concerns,” Bathan said. “This was actually a law that was signed at the beginning of this year to communicate that mental health is just as important as physical health. There are some times where you just need to take a day off to kind of stabilize your mental health and be ready to go back to school the next day.”

A study done by the American Psychology Association reported that student stress was higher than the healthy amount. On a ten-point scale, the average student ranked 5.8 in stress levels, whereas a normal amount is around 3.9. As exams are near, stress is expected to rise among students.

“I feel an increase in school-related anxiety,” Bathan said. “Students feel a lot of pressure as finals are approaching, and then along with the holidays, too, since a lot of events are going on with a lot of family commitments. That piles up to cause anxiety which can be hard to manage.”

School mental health resources are open to all students at Metea. There are five social workers and guidance counselors in each house who are available to meet with students who are interested. To make an appointment with a staff member or find valuable tools for emotional well-being, visit Metea Counseling (mental health).