Take A Break


We all have off days. We all have days where everything is way too stressful. We all have days where going to school seems impossible, and the thought of having to step into that building makes us want to turn away and hide forever. It’s for these reasons that mental health days are so important.
Mental health days, and mental health in general, have a societal stigma attached to them. In our society we like to adopt the approach that it’s not an issue if it isn’t talked about. This mentality is the problem. Students should be allowed to express their need for breaks; they need to express when it gets too stressful.
Without talking about mental health days, students aren’t able to express what they so desperately need. Stoughton High School should let students take mental health days, and those mental health days should be separate from sick days.
Two AP Biology classes were polled to see what students in Stoughton think about the topic. Many students share the viewpoint that SHS should have mental health days.
“​​We are given ‘sick’ days off of school, and yet while mental health is a vital factor of our health, our school doesn’t acknowledge that. Mental health is just as important to our bodies […] as physical health, and if the matter of one to three days off can help it’s well worth it,” junior Jordan Packard says in the survey.
There is a huge responsibility placed on high school students, which frankly is ridiculous. Students are expected at the bare minimum to go to school for at least seven hours a day, and after that they have sports or other extracurricular activities for two to three more hours. Teachers also expect students to do all of their homework without thinking about the amount of other things students do in one day.
On top of all of the extra work they do all day, they are expected to have a social life and live a healthy lifestyle. Not to mention that students have jobs that take away a good chunk of their free time after school and during the weekends.
Students don’t have time for a break, and they work themselves to the point of near exhaustion before they finally snap.
Mental health days won’t solve the problem of students being overworked, but they sure would help.
When the two AP Biology classes were polled, they were asked how many mental health days they have taken. Only a handful of students said they had taken a break for the sake of their mental health.
“None because missing school means making up work which sucks,” senior Abby Groleau writes.
“I haven’t really taken any. It’s been a grind since freshman year,” another senior, Brandon Kreger, writes.
It’s sad to know that students, to use Kreger’s words, have to “grind” their way through four years of high school.
Mental health days are for everyone, students and staff alike. I feel for the staff members at our school, and I can see how some become frustrated with their jobs due to students’ behavior. It’s not an easy job to teach groups of kids who are transitioning into adulthood. Staff members at SHS were also polled to see what they think about mental health days and if they had taken some throughout their years of teaching.
Twenty members of SHS staff responded. Of those twenty, 35% said they had taken a mental health day in the past.
One teacher wrote the reason they haven’t taken a mental health day in the past is “because of the workload for a teacher for missing a day [such as] finding a sub, sub plan, content matter difficult for just anyone to feel comfortable teaching, etc.”
Staff members deserve a break just as much as students do, and if Stoughton would introduce rest days for both students and teachers, I think everyone would benefit.
This isn’t only one staff member’s opinion either, many shared the same viewpoint.
“To support our students, we need to support our teachers as well. Teachers as well as students suffer burnout and one day to reset can make a whole world of difference,” one SHS staff member writes.
Teachers have to memorize the names and faces of over a hundred students that they would see in one day. They have to create engaging lesson plans, grade students’ homework, and lecture on the same material multiple times throughout the day. Our teachers are actively molding the minds of students every school day. Not to mention that teachers have lives outside of their jobs like any other professional adult. Teachers have a lot on their plate that wouldn’t be required for them in other job settings. They need these breaks to benefit their students.
Stoughton schools don’t have to change their whole system for sick days, but it needs a couple of tweaks. Stoughton should care; it should do more for the mental health of its students and staff. What SHS has in place now isn’t enough and it benefits no one.