Chicago Public Schools and the state of Illinois have implemented a plan to help students with their mental wellness. Mental health days are now a plausible absence in CPS’ grading system, Aspen, as long as you call your school’s main office to alert them of the absence. Since the beginning of 2022, all students have five days yearly they can utilize for their wellness to release stress, catch up on late work, or just take a day to relax. Keep in mind that these days cannot be used consecutively.
As a student who, like most, has had multiple experiences with being overwhelmed by schoolwork, I thought it would be beneficial to peers similar to me, to write a pro’s and con’s list about mental health days from my personal perspective.
- Provides extra time outside of social work minutes for students to talk to medical professionals such as psychiatrists, therapists, family physicians and psychologists.
- 24 hours of dedicated time to decompress!
- Shows that CPS and Illinois schools are starting to listen to the requests of the student body; recognizing the importance of mental health and how it affects younger demographics.
- CPS mental health days are a good way to cope healthily, compared to skipping classes and avoiding homework.
All in all, the concept is simple and the execution was pretty direct. Since it has been in place, most students don’t abuse their days.
- There is the possibility that teachers will not accommodate to an excused absence. (There is nothing that was released with the original statement saying that teachers are required to mark the assignments as exempt in the system.)
- Missing a day can cause you to fall behind, especially when you consider how close you are to the end of the quarter or the end of the semester.
- Sometimes it does take a while for the absence to go into the system as an excused one, so detentions may automatically be assigned leading to further confusion. This can be prevented by trying to reach out to your teacher and alert them of the absence as soon as possible. From personal experience, I have noticed that the best time to send a email about your plans is the night before or the morning of when teachers are more likely to check their emails.
- Certain classes will mark assignments for that day as zero, depending on the teacher. This has happened to me from personal experience. Not every teacher is an angel, so when you take a day, make sure that you alert your teacher as soon as possible or choose a date when your teachers are more lenient or understanding.
Overall, this new rule has its benefits and flaws, but we should be happy that the state is recognizing major issues in adolescent health. Diagnosis of anxiety in youth is going up by the day, so knowing that the administration is trying to assist in our general wellness brings relief to many students. Have you taken a mental health day this year? What was your experience? Let me know!
By Jada Strong, Freshman, Whitney Young Magnet
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