Mental Health Day for Kids

  • Utah and Oregon allow students to take mental health days as excused absences from school.
  • Behavior and personality changes, becoming isolated, being easily irritated, and experiencing frequent headaches and stomachaches may be signs that your child needs a mental health day.

In response to the rising rates of depression and suicide among young people in the United States, some states are taking action.

In 2018, Utah passed a bill that states students are allowed to take a mental health day as an excused absence from school. Oregon followed Utah’s lead in 2019 when it enacted a similar law.

“This is a great idea, particularly for adolescents and teens, because depression and anxiety has so much prevalence among these age groups,” Caroline Clauss-Ehlers, PhD, psychologist and associate professor at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, told Healthline.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness states that 1 in 6 children between the ages of 6 and 17 experience a mental health disorder each year.

“Mental health days are not only good for the practical aspect of giving young people a break, but they also validate that the community and society are saying, ‘We understand and we’re supporting you in this way,’” said Clauss-Ehlers.

Shelli Dry, OTD, occupational therapist and director of clinical operations at Enable My Child, agrees that these days can help eliminate stigma around mental illness.

“For schools to recognize that sometimes it’s better to take a mental health day than push through when you cannot seem to cope, is a tremendous support for students to feel understood and accepted, and [this, in turn, encourages] students to understand and accept themselves more,” Dry told Healthline.