Mental Health Days

Tanya Calvin

College deadlines, standardized test dates, final exams, last week of a quarter, night before a show, end of a sports season. These are all times that every Latin student experiences and that bring on a wave of stress. This past week was particularly draining for the senior class with the first application deadline approaching so quickly. Walking through the senior hallway felt tense and anxious, and there are other times throughout the school year when the atmosphere feels overwhelmingly stressful. Ms. Stevens, the counselor we all know and love, notes that “freshman report their top stressor as the ‘balancing act’ between academic and extracurricular activities and demands, as well as test anxiety and social stuff.” Anxiety is what most students come into Ms. Stevens’ office for, with depression being the second most common. She would guess that 90% of Latin students get stressed out.

Like anything else, stress is good but only to a certain extent. A little bit of it can encourage us enough to get our work done and continue to be actively involved, but it becomes worrisome when it begins to affect our performance and mental state. Ms. Stevens says that “mental health days are just as important as physical health sick days, in fact, sometimes more important. Kids underestimate the power of stress in their body. If not managed properly it can wreak havoc in your body.” Although there’s no official policy on mental health days, our deans and counselors want students to talk to them if we aren’t feeling well or are overwhelmed by our workload. People usually have their parents call them in sick when they need a day to themselves, but not everyone is completely comfortable with the idea.

One senior, who wishes to remain anonymous, feels that they would just be skipping school if they took a mental health day and doesn’t think missing class is worth it. It’s important to keep in mind, however, how excess of stress can actually cause a decline in performance and physical health. It leads to a cycle that can only get worse, so it’s best to get help before it gets out of hand. Ms. Stevens’ advice is to “give yourself the permission to be kind and gentle to yourself. If you feel like you need a mental health day, then take one.” One day isn’t going to fix it all, though. It’s just as important to talk to your teachers about how much work you can handle and if you feel like what you’ve been given is too much. Ms. Stevens and Mr. Bruner’s offices are safe spaces that are there for the very purpose of helping us get through high school. Every adult at Latin cares about us and is willing to help in any way they can, which is one of the unique qualities of our community we can take more advantage of. Ms. Stevens also encourages “finding something everyday that takes care of you whether it be exercise, meditation, singing, or whatever, but do it for yourself.”

It’s okay to not be okay, but know that you’re in an extremely supportive environment that is willing to help you take whatever steps are necessary to make your time at Latin enjoyable and fruitful—you just have to take that first step.