The decline in child and adolescent mental health has led to new laws that allow children to take care of themselves- same. By the time Ben Bellman reached his freshman year of high school, he was busier – and more anxious – than he had ever been.
“I had times when I felt like the whole world was falling apart on me,” he said. “It was a very difficult time.”
Before the pandemic shattered everything, his day started at 6:30 a.m., when he woke up to get ready for school, then came several Advanced Placement courses; then either his football training or his work in a nursery; study for the SAT; and various extracurricular activities. Often, she didn’t start her homework until 11 p.m. and ended up going to bed three hours later. Every day was the same exhausting schedule.
“It’s not even like I’m going any further, it was ‘This is the bare minimum’,” said Ben, now 18 and just graduating from Winston Churchill High School in Montgomery County, Maryland. “It’s like a pressure cooker that’s stuck. There is nowhere to escape. Eventually, at some point, you just broke out, or hopefully, you can get over it. “
Faced with high levels of teenage stress and a mental health crisis that includes worsening suicide rates, some states now allow students to report Mental Health Day.
In recent years alone, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, and Virginia have passed laws allowing children to be absent from school for reasons of mental or behavioral health efforts which have often been helped, or guided by students will now include “mental or behavioral health.” Expanding an earlier definition that referred to mental illness, the lawmaker who sponsored the bill, Rep, Mike Winder, and a Republican told KUTV television in February that it was his daughter, then a student at the Southern University of Utah, who came up with the idea. Late last year, advocacy group Mental Health America asked teens about the top three things that would benefit their mental health the most. More than half of respondents cited the possibility of taking a mental health breaks or being absent from school or work. And in a Harris survey of more than 1,500 teens in May of last year, 78% of respondents said schools should support mental health days to enable students to put their health first.
Ben, the recent graduate, said that as a high school student he spoke to classmates who were having problems and needed support, but didn’t know where to turn. So he organized a student coalition to improve mental health services for students in his state. This year, she spent months upholding a mental health law in Maryland but was stuck in the state Senate.
There is a debate about what constitutes a mental health day and how best to spend it. Just as there is no precise definition for adults, there is also no consensus on what this means for children. It’s a day to rest, recalibrate and take a break from your usual routine. I want a sanity day. “In that case, taking a day off is” perfectly appropriate, “said Dr. Koplewicz.
But don’t use mental health days to help your child avoid situations at school that make them uncomfortable he warned.
Instead, try to figure out where this anxiety is coming from. “Are they avoiding something because it’s too demanding? Are they hurt in any way?” she asked.
If your child does not want to go to school at all or has symptoms of depression, such as insomnia, trouble sleeping, or a lack of interest in them? Normal activities, take the time to have a more in-depth conversation about what, depending on the problem, you might need a long-term solution rather than just a day or two to recharge. Behavioral, for example, may not be appropriate for schools or families to label it as a “mental health day” this could inadvertently minimize mental health disorders, Dr. Koplewicz said, physical and mental, ”he added.
“Sick days are days of illness, both physical and mental,” he added.
Taking a day to relax and rejuvenate can be beneficial at any age, even for preschoolers, who are also prone to stress and fatigue, said Jennifer Rothman, senior director of youth initiatives and young adults at the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
“Everyone’s got mental health, everyone,” he said. “Our children have to go through so much every day.”
And that was the case long before the Covid19. Children’s mental health has deteriorated over the past decade. Between 2009 and 2019, a growing percentage of young Americans reported feeling sad or hopeless for at least two weeks “because they couldn’t go about their normal activities,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. ; and 70% of teens polled by the Pew Research Center in 2018 said anxiety and depression were the top problems for their peers, additionally, the percentage of students who have seriously considered suicide or are considering suicide has increased over the past decade the second leading cause of death in adolescents.
The pandemic has further exacerbated some of these problems. Almost half of the parents surveyed in January by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital said their teens had shown signs of a new or worsening mental health problem during the pandemic. It’s a C.D.C. the report found that the proportion of adolescents aged 12 to 17 visiting emergency rooms for mental health reasons increased by 31% during most of 2020 compared to 2019.
In New York City, in California, and in Florida, which are home to some of the largest school districts in the country, there are no state laws specifying that children can take a mental health day. Rothman said.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean you have a diagnostic disease, it just means you are taking a break,” he added.