Oregon students will now be allowed to take “mental health days” the same way they would sick days.
Sometimes life can be so overwhelming that you just need to get away, well that’s now an option for students in Oregon, as the state’s governor as just approved “mental health days” under a new signed bill.
The new bill would offer excused school absences for mental or behavioral health, according to New Post. This move stems from the work of youth activists, who also sought to fight gun control as well as lowering the voting age. The students are hoping the bill deconstructs the stigma around mental health, as the state suffers from the highest suicide rates in the country. This will make Oregon the second state to make a move honoring mental health, following behind Utah.
Haily Hardcastle, an 18-year-old from the Portland suburb of Sherwood who helped kick start the mental health bill, says she was greatly motivated by the youth-led movement after last year’s domestic terrorist attack in a Parkland, Florida high school. “We were inspired by Parkland in the sense that it showed us that young people can totally change the political conversation,” she said. “Just like those movements, this bill is something completely coming from the youth.”
Hardcastle says her actions are the result of the mental health crisis in schools and to “encourage kids to admit when they’re struggling.” Debbie Plotnik, executive director of the nonprofit advocacy group Mental Health America, said implementing the idea in schools was an important step in challenging the way society approaches mental health issues.