Mental health days for students in Utah, Oregon spark interest for parents in Missouri

Tests, papers, who they’re sitting with at lunch. Students have a lot to think about during the school year, enough to possibly stress them out. Legislators in two states are looking to help students relax and regroup by offering mental health days and it has experts and parent in Missouri talking.

Posted: Aug 20, 2019 9:03 AM
Updated: Aug 20, 2019 11:12 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Tests, papers, who they are sitting with at lunch, students have a lot to think about during the school year, enough to possibly stress them out. Legislators in two states are looking to help students relax and regroup by offering mental health days and it has experts and parents in Missouri talking.

Mental health expert and Licensed Professional Counselor, Drew Fischer, says for too long Americans haven't been giving mental health the proper attention.

“It’s important that we focus on psychological health as you focus on physical health,” said Fischer, “It’s like if you get a cold or get the pink eye you stay home and rest and reprieve, you need to do that mentally too.”

Last year, Utah changed what counts as a valid use of a sick day to an illness that’s mental or physical. In July, a law went into effect that gives students the option to use five mental health every three months of school.

With the first full week of school starting Monday, parents like Rachel Graves are looking at how Utah and Oregon acknowledging how mental health could play a role in her child's educational experience.

“It’s extremely important to build in these type of days and these self-care activities especially for teens and everything they are facing these days,” said Graves.

Graves sons are four and eight. Harrison, 4, is starting pre-K while 8-year-old Malcome is starting third grade. Even though Graves kids are young, she's still concerned about their mental health.

"We are at least now trying to make sure they have the words to express how they are feeling so they can start to express themselves," said Graves.

"That's important because an adult takes at least 20 minutes to calm down because they have that self-awareness and self-control, " said Fischer, "Adolescents take even longer because they don't have that control yet." 

Which is why Fischer says, mental health days would be helpful for kids.

"It's exciting that we're promoting mental health there are a lot of stressors we place on our youth," said Fischer, "Teaching kids to understand and say, 'hey this is scary or stressful to me' but then move on is only going to help them." 

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