COLORADO SPRINGS — Every now and then, everyone needs a day to reset, including children.
Historically most schools haven’t recognized mental health as a legitimate reason to miss classes. With psychological issues impacting their ability to show up to school as their best selves in the same way as physical illness would, one by one, states are allowing students to take time for themselves on days when the weight of the world becomes a little too much to carry.
“Work can always replace you. Your family can’t. You can’t replace yourself,” said Christine Kahn, the founder of Springs Behavioral Health in Colorado Springs. “So for work and for students, you need that break to be able to re-center yourself and even be more productive.”
Colorado is one of 12 states that currently allows students to take a mental health day.
“Kids that are stressed, anxious, depressed – can’t learn as well,” Kahn said. “And then it’s pointless to even be in the classroom, then they’re disruptive for others and not taking in what they need. Teachers, too, they get overwhelmed. They have more students than, probably, they’ve ever had.”
Even when mental health days are accessible, many people fear taking them due to the stigma associated with mental illness. Kahn encourages everyone to take advantage of them.
“For them to be able to say, I need a mental health day, it’s not just because I’m sick, is really helpful. And that helps move this forward, these conversations forward,” Kahn explained.
According to the National Association of School Psychologists, mental health is a necessary component for the promotion of students’ developmental, social, and academic well-being: “Mental health does not necessarily mean the absence of some form of mental illness, but rather having the means and necessary skills to promote the ability to cope with challenges in life. If ignored, mental health problems can interfere with children’s learning, development, relationships, and physical health.”
VeryWellMind conducted a parents’ study asking about the impact of mental health days for kids.
They found that whether their child spent the day talking about their feelings, being in nature, playing video games, or simply relaxing, the time off provided a valuable opportunity to reset.