In an effort to change the stigma of mental and emotional health issues, Oregon has become one of the first states to allow students legitimate time off for a "Mental Health Day". Signed in July, 2019, the bill makes mental health and behavioral health excusable absences from school. Utah also passed a similar bill in 2018.
Student Advocates Partnered with Lobbyists & Mental Health Professionals
According to CNN, students from all over Oregon conceived the idea at a leadership camp and worked with mental health professionals and lobbyists to push the change. Student advocate Hailey Hardcastle said "You take a day off if you have a cold, because resting up will make you feel better, and if you're having a really bad anxiety attack or you're going through a bout of depression, taking a day off can make you feel better...."
Hailey also highlighted the fact that the Oregon students were particularly motivated by Parkland, FL students, whose lobbying and media efforts made waves politically after school shootings in Parkland, FL. Oregon's student advocates want mental and behavioral health issues to be just as important as a physical injury.
Will Teens Abuse The Rule?
Some parents are concerned that teens will abuse the rule, fearing it may become a "license to skip school". However Oregon's student advocates claim students already miss days for emotional health reasons, saying they don't feel well or have a headache, for instance. Hailey hopes this will open a door between parents and teens, allowing more honest communication. She hopes students will have more access to the mental health resources they need if they are able to be honest with parents/guardians.
Oregon Self-Harm & Suicide
Self-harm and suicide are recognized problems in Oregon, where suicide rates reached record numbers in 2017, per CNN. In fact, Oregon school districts are required to maintain thorough suicide prevention policies, for all grades.
Will more states follow suit? It could mean more county/district level jobs for professionals in this industry. At Staffing Plus we know the importance of Mental Health and Behavioral Health professionals. We can help you get the right position in this critical profession.
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