Taking a sick day from school is the norm, but should kids use a sick day for mental health reasons? The Doctors weigh in on bills in Utah and Oregon which allows a student to miss up to 10 days of school for mental health.
ER physician Dr. Travis Stork admits that if this was allowed when he was in school, he feels like he might have abused it, but clinical psychologist Dr. Judy Ho points out that a large majority of our students have unchecked mental health issues.
"70 to 80 percent of children and teenagers have unmet mental health needs," she says, noting that many young people have been diagnosed but are not getting the proper treatment. "I do believe that prevention is huge."
She hopes that at an early age, we teach kids that needing time off is okay and not something we should look down on. While she likes the idea of giving your mind a break, she does don't think that spending that day glued to a device or on social media would be the best use of that time. "You have to have a plan for that day," she says, suggesting parents have a gameplan for what the child will be doing with their day off.
Dr. Judy also shares some warning signs that may indicate a possible mental health issue in kids and teens, which include:
- Mood swings
- Behavior changes
- Erratic sleep patterns
- Not eating
- Telling others their life is not worth anything or saying they want to die
She adds, "[Taking time off for your mental health] is a normal thing. There should be no stigma about it. We should all take care of our mental health."