In college, chances are you feel a wide range of emotions in a short term. Students can go from happy to annoyed and back to happy in the same hour.
In the midst of all these feelings, there is one emotion that remains consistent for students: the overwhelming amount of stress.
Students are constantly being bombarded with an abundance of stressful triggers. Regardless of why they are stressed, students are not given many options about what to do other than just work through it. As many college students know, you cannot afford to have a bad day because there are usually a million and one things that need to be done by the end of that day.
While short-term stress can motivate you to work harder, it only lasts momentarily. But this is not the type of stress that is weighing on college students. These individuals are facing continued stress, which is affecting their participation in multiple aspects of their lives from losing friendships to missing an assignment.
But there are more factors other than stress that are affecting students. There are students on campus who are dealing different types of mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety. These illnesses have a big impact on students’ lives, but there is not enough awareness about them.
As we learn more about how these factors affect the body, one thing we start to wonder is why mental health days have not become an accepted concept on college campuses.
A mental health day is a day where you take a break from the responsibilities that you usually face and practice self-care techniques. Self-care techniques can be anything that allows you to de-stress and refresh yourself for the next day. The point of a mental health day is to allow yourself a break without feeling guilty for doing it.
One common misconception of mental health days is that they are fake and unnecessary. There are people in the world who believe taking a mental health day makes you weak, yet this is very far from the truth. There are multiple ways to look at a mental health day but the easiest is presented like this: when you are physically sick you are encouraged to go home and rest, but is being sick mentally not equally or even worse than that? Should each kind of “sick” not receive the same treatment?
While it would be easy to say that students have weekends as mental health days, that is just not the truth. With the overwhelming amount of pressure put on students every day, they should be allowed to have mental health days built up in case they need one. Students should not be made to wait days before they can feel like they can breathe again.
If we care about our students and respect the work they put into our university, we should not avoid setting up days that can revolve around them bettering themselves and their emotional/mental health. During this process, students will be able to achieve their goals without sacrificing other major staples of their lives.
If you ever end up feeling more overwhelmed than a mental health day can help, please be aware of the resources provided on campus. Illinois State University has counseling services you can be connected with. They provide 20 individual therapy sessions and unlimited group therapy sessions for free. They can be reached at (309) 438-3655.