By Renée Onque, CNBC
Colorado is one of a growing number of states who recognize the benefit of students taking mental health days
There are many factors for parents to consider when choosing a school or school district for their kids, like the quality of the education, access to social opportunities and location. If your child's mental health is a top priority, you may add another consideration to your list: Does this school district allow mental health days for its students?
According to a new study by Verywell Mind and Parents, 60 percent of parents with children ages 8 to 17 said the pandemic has affected their child’s mental health. Additionally, over one-third of parents observed mood and behavior changes in their children with 37 percent noticing their child having difficulty socializing.
Nearly half of parents polled listed school as the top stressor for their 'tween or teen, and 74 percent surveyed think all schools should offer mental health days for students.
According to the Child Mind Institute (CMI), a nonprofit specializing in pediatric mental health, a mental health day is a day off from school to rest and recharge. There is ongoing discussion over the best ways to utilize the time. The lack of consensus means families can interpret the term as they deem appropriate unless a state or a school district outlines specific requirements.
CMI further explained that mental health days are not intended as a way to neglect assignment deadlines or tests. Sensible reasons may include relationship struggles, performance pressure, family trauma and existing mental health conditions.
Seventy-seven percent of parents in the study who allowed their child take a mental health day stated that the time off was beneficial. Whether their child spent the day talking about their feelings, connecting with nature, playing video games or simply relaxing, the time off provided a valuable opportunity to reset.
As a response to the mental health crisis exacerbated by COVID-19, more states have enacted legislation allowing mental health days for students in public schools.
Colorado recognizes mental health as a legitimate reason to miss a day of school. In 2020, the Colorado legislature passed Senate Bill 20-014, mandating school district attendance requirements excusing students for behavioral health concerns, giving children an opportunity to take mental health days.
Similar bills have been proposed in New York, Maryland, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.
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