Many schools nationwide are now allowing students to take "mental health days" in order to address anxiety and depression among children and teens.
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According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in five teenagers in the United States have experienced a major depressive episode. A mental health day would qualify as a day off from school due to mental health issues, similar to a sick day. Additionally, mental health days are not intended for students to avoid classes or assignments but rather to recharge and rest.
Currently, there are 12 states where students are legally allowed to take mental health days. The following states include Washington, California, Illinois, Maine, Virginia, Colorado, Oregon, Connecticut, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Kentucky. There are also five states where bills for mental health days have been proposed, including Florida, New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.
"When it comes to mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, those are also medical conditions that can interfere with anyone's ability to function at work and at school," Dr. Christine Crawford, associate medical director at the National Alliance on Mental Illness, told TODAY Parents . "The whole purpose of mental health days is to recognize and to acknowledge the fact that these symptoms from these mental health related conditions can interfere with a young person's ability to be fully present in school."
Audacy's I’m Listening initiative aims to encourage those who are dealing with mental health issues to understand they are not alone. If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression or anxiety, know that someone is always there. Additionally, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-273-8255.