Having classes on a ‘mental health day’ defeats the purpose

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Florida A&M University has officially announced that the university has incorporated a mental health day to ensure that students are making progress toward graduation.

On Thursday, all Florida A&M University professors are to incorporate activities into their lesson plans that exclude any forms of lecture-style teaching.

The Florida Board of Governors has requested that the Florida State University System conduct a mandatory mental health course — introduced as the Kognitio program — for all faculty and staff members.

The course is designed to provide all university personnel with the necessary tools to understand and remain aware of noticeable changes in their students.

According to FLBOG, it’s reported that more than 70,100 university faculty and staff have begun their Kognito program training.

As many students appreciate the initiative, students also believe that a mental health day isn’t supposed to be delegated to the classroom.

Public relations student Tyreonna Brown believes this week’s mental health day is well intended, but that it misses the mark.

“The incentive of finding alternatives to give students a sort of day of rest is lovely and I appreciate it,” Brown said. “Yet, a mental health day is not intended to be in the same area [classroom/zoom] where many mental health issues from students stem from.”

Tampa Rep. Susan Valdes, recently introduced House Bill 849 that allocates for excused absences for school-aged students to become interconnected with new mental health day legislation.

In an interview with Florida Politics, Valdes said: “We talk about mental health, and emphasizing its importance, yet nowhere in attendance policy does it allow for school boards to really think about mental health. It’s just a matter of codifying that mental health is as important as physical health.”

Although this particular house bill is geared toward school-aged students, college students are also in agreement.

Criminal justice major Taylor Hall emphasizes the importance of students not being penalized for missing class on a specified mental health day.

“Mental health days are specified towards someone having the day to themselves to put themselves in a better head space,” Hall said. “I just feel like it should stay outside of the classroom.”

FAMU staff members have completed 86% of the Kognito training, while Florida State University has completed 99% of its Kognito training.

Students are hoping that continued training will allow their professors to better understand their need to be away from the classrooms on a day designed to help better their mental health.