By Sammi Carpenter
Staff writer

Mental health. Words people are afraid of using.

The public stigma around mental health is a character weakness, people that have mental health issues are dangerous, they are scary and more negative stereotypes.

According to the National Education Association (NEA) more than 60% of college students have at least one mental health problem.

More numbers from the NEA show a bleaker picture – 44% have been diagnosed with depression, 37% have been diagnosed with anxiety, and 15% have reported they have thought about suicide before.

In today’s society there are several factors that play a role in affecting mental health – school, home, friends, expenses, support, work, etc. Cases of people with poor mental health have shown in extreme situations that sometimes they can’t even get out of bed but they are still expected to participate in life.

Four in 10 college students have reported they wanted to drop out of school because their mental health is so bad that they could not go to school.

A big question is should college students be allowed to have mental health days? There are a mix of answers in the world.

Debbie Graber, coordinator of counseling and social work services at Hutchinson Community College is skeptical but supportive of having students have mental health days.

“Right now, the official policy of the college is that your excused days are for if you’re on a college-approved activity, and then it’s up to the instructors on how they handle sick days.” Graber said, “If you are needing multiple mental-health days a semester, then we probably need to have that student get in touch with our accessibility coordinator because mental health can be an accommodation. An occasional mental health day to me is like a (physical) sick day. You let your instructor know you are not feeling well and depending on their policy it is handled that way.”

Due to the stigma around mental health, students have to be wary of who they tell when they are going to take a mental health day. Some instructors might be supportive and some might not.

“I have taken a few mental health days this school year. My teacher’s policy about missing class is letting them know in advance that I will be missing and to get the notes from a classmate or online,” Maize freshman Haley Rogers said, “I think students should be allowed to take mental health days, because things happen in life where it is mentally exhausting and you need a break.”

Generation Z tends to care more about mental health than other generations because they are the generation that has more mental health reports.

“Mental health is one of the most important things. Mental health can affect your attitude and behavior.” Hutchinson freshman Emma English said, “I definitely think students should be allowed to have mental health days. I actually think it should be mandatory because school can really pile up on top of home life, work life and just life in general.”

For students that need help beyond just having an occasional mental health day, the college has resources for students to get the help they need.

“Students can come in here or they can call the student success center and we have a sheet that we ask them to fill out, just their contact information and we ask them what brings them to therapy and some of the symptoms they might be having,” Graber said, “We base how many times we see the student based on their needs, the majority of the time we see the student once a week. Students do not have to pay for therapy because the cost is part of the student fees that they pay and we don’t have a limitation on how many times you can be seen.”

 Taking care of your mental health is extremely important because it can lead to success, whether that be taking a mental day and/or going to therapy.

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