As mental health becomes more prevalent, Excused Absences Extend Beyond Physical Sickness

Opening up-Mental health is extremely important and asking for help does not make you selfish, keeping it hidden is one of the worst things a person can do

Enrique Galeana

Opening up-Mental health is extremely important and asking for help does not make you selfish, keeping it hidden is one of the worst things a person can do

Enrique Galeana, Arts & Entertainment Editor

On the first of July, 2019, Oregon passed a law that enables students to take “mental health days” off from school. Under this law, students would have five excused absences in the span of three months which can be a normal sick day or a mental health day.

Were you aware of the mental health law?

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This law is the first step in acknowledging that mental health is just as important as physical health, if not more so. According to research at Harvard University and standard observations, people are often driven by their emotions and more people need to become aware of that. 

People tend to shy away from discussing mental health issues because of a lack of basic knowledge on the topic. “I think that people tend to shy away from talking about their mental health because they are afraid of being judged. They don’t want to be bullied or ridiculed for expressing the way they feel, which sadly happens a lot. I also think that culture can cause a person to shy away from expressing their mental health because maybe it is looked down upon, especially for men, for them to share those types of feelings to others,” Anahy Bautista, a junior, said. The stigma against openly discussing mental health often causes people to disregard their own mental health. Having mental health issues should not be treated any differently from having physical health issues yet people seem to disregard their mental state most of the time. 

Avoiding the way you feel will only exacerbate the problem which could definitely hurt a student’s in school performance because they just end up getting fed up and quitting. “Most of the time, however [people] just don’t have anyone to talk to that they could trust and feel comfortable sharing with,” Adan Barrera, a junior, said. It’s always best to ask an older person for help because they have more experience and can always give you advice. Knowing that they could take a day off to replenish their mental health without facing any repercussions might encourage people to speak more openly on the issue.

Students can at times struggle and it does get to their health but one minor setback shouldn’t discourage them from working or encourage them to quit. “We need to teach this generation how to have grit. We’re doing a disservice as well by cuddling them. There have to be classes or some kind of teaching of how to develop that strength, that inner strength not to give up. Life is hard; this is not even close to what they’re going to face in adult life. It will get harder,” Ms. Galvan, an English and Humanities teacher, who has had 15 years of experience dealing with students

Teachers acknowledge that students do struggle, but sometimes the students themselves have to push ahead. Students complain to teachers about work even though teachers are only messengers and are doing their jobs. Teachers can stress out too; they can get piled with work too. Everyone can suffer from mental health issues including adults and there is no shame in asking for assistance.

The matter of the heart is the heart.

— Ms. Galvan

For more information regarding how the mental health absences work, the Oregon law site explains any questions or concerns, people might have.