Mental Stability or Honor Roll?

Should mental health days count as excused absences?

Cori Getzendanner, Mentally Unstable Writer and Reporter

Today, teenagers are more stressed and burned out than ever and a day off school is all they want; but how can they take the break they need if it threatens their perfect attendance record?

Mental health days should count as excused absences because they refresh students to learn again, nobody can perform as well when they are stressed, and it lowers the mental health stigma. 

Over the course of the school year, students stay up late to finish homework and rarely get any free time because they are so focused on their grades. Just a single day off can give them time to return to school with renewed energy. They can spend the day sleeping, returning to their favorite hobbies or media, and, if they’re really behind, catch up on homework. Adults don’t realize how much of a toll school can take on students and a single day off won’t ruin their academic career; in fact, in the long run, it can drastically improve it. 

Studies show that students cannot perform as well in school when they are stressed. According to NYU, 55% of students say that academics are their main stressor. 6 out of 10 college students said they felt so stressed they couldn’t get their work done. According to Dr. Lawrence Tucker, 64% of college students with mental illness will end up dropping out of school. These statistics show that while school may not always be the cause of mental illness, it can definitely exacerbate it. In addition to this, stress can contribute to lack of motivation and concentration. Sometimes all students need is a “me day.”

As well as helping with performance and burn out, mental health days being excused will help lower the stigma. The mental health stigma is when society thinks mental health is fake, makes up stereotypes, or disapproves of people seeking help. By making mental health days less stigmatized, people will realize that mental health is real and can seriously hurt people. If students can take a day off once in a while, they will be able to manage their emotions much better and help them do even better in school when they return. 

If the school wants to help students’ attendance, not excusing mental health days will not help. Instead of single handedly making kids hate school, focus more on the students personally. They want a break from stressing about homework from eight different classes, four tests back-to-back, not to mention extracurricular responsibilities! 

Instead of cracking down on attendance rates, schools should let students have a set number of excused mental health days per semester. In addition to this reform, staff should do regular checkups on all students and remind them that their worth is not dependent on their grades. While this can’t eliminate mental illness in students, it will hopefully make them feel less alone. 


In addition to this editorial, I created two charts based on a survey I did that asked students and teachers (separately) whether they have taken a mental health day, and, if yes, whether it was helpful or caused more stress by making them feel behind. 

Have you taken a mental health day?


If yes, was it helpful or did it cause more stress?