Students’ mental health matters

A gloomy day on FAMU’s campus. Photo Courtesy: Skhai Bennett

Effective in January, a new bill signed by J.B. Pritzker, the governor of Illinois, will allow students in that state up to five mental health days per school year. These excused absences will not require a doctor’s note.

With the recent transition of returning back to in-person learning, is granting students excused absences for mental health days an option FAMU should explore?

Genisy Cohen, a fourth-year Florida A&M student, believes excused mental health days should be implemented.

“Mental health days can reduce stress and the mental burn-outs that students face from years of schooling back to back. Mental health plays a big role in everyone’s lives and can be extremely exhausting and detrimental; It should be taken just as seriously as sick days,” Cohen said.

For students who get homesick, being away from home can further add to their stress. A personal day or two at home could give them the momentum they need to get back in the right frame of mind.

“Absolutely, I think mental health controls all of your health. If your mind isn’t present then neither will your body. With college students, already being away from home is already a natural stressor. Having five days out of the year to just take a deep breathe and get your mind together could likely improve overall campus morale and classroom performance,” said Roderick Harris, a FAMU graduate.

Unanticipated events, like the spread of the coronavirus, put a strain on students and have required them to readjust to campus life amid a pandemic.

“I think it’ll be a good idea for students to be allowed mental health days, especially with the virus. As a professor, if a student expressed mental health concerns to me, I would allow them to take the day off anyway,” said FAMU  professor Hsuan Yuan.

The university often talks about the importance of student mental health through podcasts and seminars, but is it taking the measures to ensure that the minds of their students are healthy?

On Tuesday, Rylan Curtis, a FAMU alum, tweeted “Colleges should give at least 5-7 mental health days for students each semester that do not count against you. They always wanna have seminars on it but never give us the TIME to focus on it.”

Does Curtis have a point? Should FAMU reach out to Florida government officials to address concerns regarding student mental health?