The Student News Site of Richard Montgomery High School

The Tide

The Student News Site of Richard Montgomery High School

The Tide

The Student News Site of Richard Montgomery High School

The Tide


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Crucial mental health days must be protected

Many students struggle with the impacts from transitioning back to in-person school after a year and a half of online school. (Photo permission granted by Elizabeth Domorad)

In today’s world, mental health is of pressing concern, especially for high schoolers. In 2021, the Centers for Disease Control found that 42 percent of U.S. high schoolers felt consistently sad or hopeless and 29 percent had poor mental health. Additionally, LGBTQIA+ and female students are more likely to suffer from poor mental health, with 45 percent of LGBT students seriously considering attempting suicide in 2021. That is a worryingly high proportion of students. In an ultra-competitive atmosphere like RM, such feelings can be easily exacerbated.

There are many reasons why students’ mental health has been showing downward trends in recent years. “Homework and intense workloads have a horrible effect on students,” freshman Thea Rosal said. Schools around the country have been struggling to give students the mental health care they deserve and can seem uninterested in helping at all, perhaps due to the stigma surrounding issues. Luckily, MCPS has begun to make clear efforts to help students with such issues.

As of March 2019, MCPS allows students to take a mental health day as a break from school, taking the form of an excused absence, similar to a sick day. More specifically, MCPS allows students to take off from school to engage in activities that support the student’s physiological well-being. “My parents have let me take a few when it’s been a really stressful week with a lot of tests,” freshman Aariana Rao said. This is so important for the well-being of MCPS students and must continue.

The main argument against mental health days is that students will abuse them. This is not always the case, and can’t be held against the majority. Mental health days are tracked in the same manner as sick days, so abusing them is the same as students abusing sick days. It does not create a greater opportunity for students to skip school and only helps those in the community who need it. “I haven’t really heard of people abusing mental health days,” sophomore Ashley Lin said. 

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Another argument against mental health days is that students use them to avoid their problems, like tests, thus making those problems worse for themselves. That argument shows a lack of understanding of the reality of mental health. Students take mental health days to give themselves a reset and allow themselves to keep working.  Mental health days are solely about tackling students’ mental health struggles, not about avoiding any other problems.

The final common argument against mental health days in schools is that there is minimal research to suggest that they are helpful. Mental health days are new programs still in the investigation and implementation stages, which is why there is so little data supporting them. As schools continue to pilot these programs, more research will emerge. According to CNN, 90 percent of United States adults say that there is currently a mental health epidemic. Anything that could help today’s students is worth further exploration.

The one major issue about MCPS’s mental health days right now is a lack of awareness. Many students have no idea of their ability to take a mental health day. This needs to be fixed, ideally by MCPS issuing out a statement, identifying students’ rights. “I am still unaware of what the Mental Health Day system is,” Rosal said.

Unfortunately, some students feel like their family may not let them take a mental health day anyway. “I think unless I was sick, [my parents] probably wouldn’t let me take a day off,” Lin said. This is the sad reality for many students. 

Mental health days are a useful tool that students can and should utilize. With mental health being the massive problem it is, Montgomery County’s support of students means a lot and will go a long way.


If you would like to voice your opinion on an issue you feel is relevant to our community, please do so here. Anyone is able and welcome to submit a Letter to the Editor, regardless of journalistic experience or writing skills. Submissions may be published either online or in a print issue.

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