A recently passed bill in Oregon will now allow students to stay home from school for a mental health day when they feel they need a little break. The bill was spearheaded by a group of teen activists who believe that ending the stigma of mental health is important for the overall health and success of future generations.
Hailey Hardcastle, Sam Adamson, Lori Riddle, and Derek Evans are all teenagers who came together to reach out to lawmakers in order to be heard. Hardcastle was inspired by a summer workshop that she helped organized on mental health. There, students expressed the need for "Mental Health Days" as one of the most brainstormed ideas when coming up for solutions to be mentally healthier.
Speaking to NPR Hardcastle stated, "A big issue for students with mental health is when you have to miss a day because you're going through depression or you have a therapy appointment." Supporters of the law want to note that these days off aren't just when a student doesn't feel like coming to school. This new law is for students with depression, anxiety or other extenuating circumstances where they need a day off to feel like themselves again.
Previously students were only allowed to miss school due to a physical illness, a family member's physical illness, a medical appointment, or a family emergency. Mow mental and behavioral health needs will now count as an excused absence. The bill doesn't allow for too many absences and students are only able to miss five days of school every three months.
The new law hasn't gone without controversy. Many users on social media called it out as too much and coddling of younger generations. For every negative comment, there were supporters who understood the need for time to rest during times of great stress or during a depressive episode.
Oregon's suicide rate has been higher than the national average for the past three decades and suicide remains a leading cause of death for young people. Simply acknowledging that it's ok to not be ok.
Governor Kate Brown signed the bill into law last month and will be in effect this school year. What do you think of this new bill? Would it have been helpful when you were in school? Let us know where you stand.