Senior advocates for mental health days

Lindsay Peck '22, Arts Editor

Imagine waking up to the piercing sound of your alarm in the morning. As you rub your heavy eyelids, you perceive your laptop lying next to you. Feeling the rough texture of your jeans that you have been wearing since the day before, you manage to plant two feet on the floor. You fell asleep working again.

You aren’t ready for the day ahead of you. Underprepared is an understatement for how you feel about your day’s assessments; you studied so much, yet not enough. Even socializing with your peers seems like an effortful, dreadful task. That knot in your back becomes a little more painful when you, inundated with assignments, realize that a good night’s sleep and emotional stability seem to be an idea of the future.

This toxic extreme that you are driving your body towards is taking a toll on your mental health. You’re frustrated that a single day of attendance, a test, and an essay seem to mean more to the school than your mental wellbeing. 

It’s safe to say adolescents have felt this way at some point in their high school career. This constant “work hard” mentality is simultaneously normalized and concealed. Among students, staying up late is seen as a “flex” to their peers to understand how hard they work. Many teachers expect students to meet harsh deadlines yet become upset when class participation is lacking and students are drowsy. Bearing the burden of seemingly endless assignments and attempting to navigate one’s social and academic life can easily manifest itself into mental health problems. It is beyond difficult for students with depression and other mental illnesses to feel motivated.

Working at the cost of students’ mental health is an unhealthy behavior the Greenhills community must put forth its best effort to minimize. A partial solution to this problem would be the implementation of mental health days. A mental health day is a day off of school to focus on the wellbeing of a student. Not only would the mental health days be beneficial to the Greenhills students, but they would also be a well-deserved break for the hard-working teachers who are also very much in need of a break. On top of that, they would also indirectly positively affect parents as they see their child more energized, less stressed, and most importantly, happier. 

Students can spend this day relaxing, catching up on missing work or sleep, spending quality time with friends and family, going outside, or even playing video games. The point is for it to be a break for a student to do what they need and want to do. When school bombards students with assignments, it is easy to lose sight of and time for passions. This day can serve as a time in which students are encouraged and welcomed to do whatever they need to do in order to cater to their emotional needs.

Sure, everyone feels overwhelmed at times, and stress will most likely be present in students’ future careers, but that doesn’t mean we should be ignoring this pervasive feeling at Greenhills. Prolonged stress is not something that should be swept under the carpet and normalized. 

Hence, Greenhills must do its part to mitigate burnout and improve the overall quality of student mental health. Mental health days at Greenhills would be achievable and straightforward. There should be one mental health day per marking period. 

Although four days a year may seem trivial, many Greenhills upper school students can agree that they are highly necessary.  Ideally, every mental health day would fall on a Wednesday, serving as a mid-week pause to lessen chronic stress. Some may argue that mental health days would be disruptive to learning class material; however, they would instead ensure that students return to school on Thursday mentally re-energized and prepared with the mindset to learn and retain information.

With the increasing attention directed towards maintaining quality mental health, now is as good a time as ever for the Greenhills community to take action. It is vital to institute change for the reduction of the ubiquitously poor mental state of students.

For the sake of students’ mental health, performance in school, and productivity, we must do our best to contribute to eradicating the toxic workaholic ideology prevalent among the Greenhills community.