Oregon Students Will Now Be Allowed To Take Mental Health Days

Published on July 23, 2019

Ah, the perils of high school. A group of Oregon students came up with the idea to let students take mental health days in the same way they would take excused sick days earlier this year at a leadership camp during the summer of 2018. Now, after months of advocating for the program, the idea has become law and will go into effect to let students take their mental health as seriously as they take their physical health. The law will go into effect just in time for the new school year in September.

New Laws to Help Students

The law that lets students take up to five excused absences in a three-month period is just one of a couple of new laws that have gone into effect to help protect students’ mental health. Another law called Adi’s Act, named after a student named Adi Staub, enforces school districts to create extensive mental health resources for teens at-risk of suicide. Staub committed suicide shortly after coming out as transgender to their peers. Among those demographics are teens within the LGBTQ+ communities.

Both new laws were signed in by Oregon Governor Kate Brown. Studies show that Oregon’s suicide rate among teens reached its highest point thus far. Students felt that they needed to go forward and create solutions to the problem. Among those solutions are extensive anti-suicide resources—such as with Adi’s Act, as well as the ability for students to take mental health days should they need a day off. In addition to rising suicide rates, more students than ever are being diagnosed with anxiety and other mental health issues associated with trying to navigate the heavy demands of school and extracurricular activities.

Experts hope that the new mental health law will reduce the stigmas surrounding mental health in the United States. Treating mental health as if its the same as physical health sends a message to students, parents, and teachers that their mental health should be taken seriously. Many also hope that it will encourage students to be honest about their mental health with their parents and teachers, which may eventually lead to lower suicide rates.

Mental Health Day Law Created By Students

Four Oregon students helped brainstorm and create the law that would eventually go into effect to allow students to take excused mental health days from school. Sam Adamson, Lori Riddle, Hailey Hardcastle, and Derek Evans came up with the idea for the new law last summer at a leadership camp. Since then, they’ve been working to get the law put into effect in all Oregon schools, with additional resources to prevent suicide being put into all kindergarten-12th grade schools.

The law started gaining heavy traction in February, and was eventually signed in June, where it will go into effect just before the start of the new school year. A similar law was passed in Utah recently as well.

Julia Sachs is a former Managing Editor at Grit Daily. She covers technology, social media and disinformation. She is based in Utah and before the pandemic she liked to travel.

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