I Put Mental Health Days To The Test


Jennifer Wallace

Are days off really a break or do they just add to the stress?
ELHS provides the student body with two mental health days, they aren’t in the handbook and students aren’t taught about them in class. But each high school in CT is mandated by the state to have them. According to assistant principal Julie Shvetz, mental health days were recently added to ELHS last year. The parents call in the morning, like any other sick day and it’s added to Infinite Campus with a special code. These days don’t count toward the six
absences for a one semester class and 12 absences for a full year. “Some students can truly benefit from not being in school and being at home and allowing that reset to happen. Some students have a different measuring system which is the stress of what they’re missing outweighs the benefit of mental health days,” counselor Lisa Belisle said. I decided to put it to the test. I took a mental health day to see what the repercussions of work would be and if I could de-stress and clear my head. I checked with my dad and put together a schedule to make sure I didn’t mindlessly waste the day. My mom called me out that morning; my attendance got marked “Mental Health Wellness.” First, clean my room: it made sense for me to tackle this first since this is where I spend most of my day. Minutes later my room, and brain, were decluttered. Next, I got to make breakfast and lunch for myself, work on some hobbies I’ve forgotten since school started, be outside, and play with my pets. I asked my friend, Ginny, to check in with my Biology teacher to see what work I would be missing, as that was the class I was most worried about getting behind in. Ginny called me to let me know that I was exempt from the classwork for the day, but still had to do the homework. For my other class, I emailed my teacher and let them know I would be out for the day. It was the same with her, no classwork but still homework. I’d advise checking in with your teachers beforehand if possible. You may not get as lucky as I was regarding classwork exemptions and teacher understanding. The day was a nice break and I did feel more refreshed the following day, although due to fear of missing too much school work and falling behind, I don’t think I will be taking another mental health day. However, it was a great reset. “Everybody benefits from having mental health days, as long as they are used with responsibility,” math teacher Stephanie Sojkowski said. She tries to be understanding of students’ situations as long as they still realize there is work. “If you’re going to say mental health for students is important, then you have to back that up,” history teacher Sara Griffith said. Ms. Griffith has an extension policy that gives students a chance to get more time on assignments, but they have to advocate for themselves ahead of time.