When Hailey Hardcastle was a kid, she and her mother made a deal. Hailey could take three days off from school each semester. They called these her “mental health days.”
Mental health refers to a person’s psychological and emotional well-being. Taking days off from school made it easier for Hailey to manage her mental health issues—anxiety and depression.
Then, when Hailey was in high school, it crossed her mind that other students could benefit from a similar arrangement. So she joined forces with other Oregon teens in a months-long effort to persuade their state’s lawmakers to pass a bill that would make mental health days a right for all Oregon students.
Their hard work paid off: In June 2019, that bill was signed into law by the governor. Now, along with physical illness or an emergency, mental health is an acceptable reason to miss school.
Today, laws like this exist in at least nine states and have been proposed in five others. Hailey, who’s now in college, believes such policies will help students who are struggling with their mental health. But some people worry: Are days off from school really the best solution?