Šistockphoto.com / Julia Gomina

There are plenty of days when kids don’t feel like going to school, but what if when they’re feeling down, they could call in a “mental health day”? The NJ Senate Education Committee is discussing a bill that would allow students to take excused absences in order to take care of their mental health. With more and more kids dealing with anxiety, depression and other issues since the pandemic, it’s not surprising that 12 other states have already taken such measures.

With a greater focus on students’ well-being, it’s no wonder that many are in favor of the bill. Others say that mental health and physical health should not be separated into two different types of reasons for excused absences. Some stated the importance of not requiring a note from a psychiatrist or other behavioral health professional since appointments can be hard to come by these days. But proponents of the bill champion the fact that taking a mental health day would not count towards a child’s absences or even ruin their perfect attendance record (whether trying to achieve that is healthy or not is another hotly debated issue!).

In the case of students who are severely depressed or suicidal, a mental health day might not be appropriate, as staying home, possibly alone, would not be the best course of action. In this case, the student needs support, whether from school counselors, teachers, parents, doctors or other trusted individuals.

In the meantime, some NJ parents have already been allowing their kids to stay home when they’re feeling stressed. But others cite the fact that kids (and parents!) are incredibly resilient and that if not used with caution, these excused absences could open the door to a victim mindset. Others worry that permitting students to take more time off of school could worsen the challenges they already face.

Read more:

A NJ Family Calls for Change After 14-Year-Old Dies by Suicide
What Every Parent Needs to Know About Depression and Suicidal Thoughts