This US state just officially introduced ‘mental health days’ for uni students


A group of students campaigned for mental health days to be legislated in their state.

Video above: In this town, locals say mental health care is ‘better in prison’ than in hospital

Teen activists in the US state of Oregon have successfully campaigned for a new law allowing students to take mental health days.

The new bill expands the reasons for excused absences from school, allowing students to take "mental health days" just as they would sick days.

The students behind the measure say they want to change the stigma around mental health in a state that has some of the country's worst suicide rates. Oregon has reported data higher than the national average for the last three decades, according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

18-year-old Hailey Hardcastle, along with three other students, started lobbying for the mental health bill after a workshop at a summer camp.

"A big issue for students with mental health is when you have to miss a day because you're going through depression or you have a therapy appointment," Hardcastle told NPR.

"It's really hard to make up tests and homework because teachers or the administration might not take it as seriously as a physical illness."

Prior to the change, students were only allowed to miss school due to physical illness, a family member's physical illness, doctor or dentist appointments or an emergency. According to Oregon law, students can take up to five excused absences within a three month period.

So what if you're an Australia student?

There is no jurisdiction in Australia that has legislated for mental health days, at either a pre-tertiary or tertiary level.

However, there are provisions in schools to promote the mental wellbeing of students.

KidsMatter and MindMatters are programs used by schools across the country to teach students about the importance of mental health and reduce stigma.

The Feed put a call-out on social media asking if students in Australia should be able to do the same

Most people who responded seemed to support the measure. Here are some of your thoughts:

"I allow my four kids to take a mental health day each semester. It could be a fun filled day for just them and both parents, a day to snuggle under the doona and pretend that their woes don't exist or a chance to chat openly with mum or dad about troubles or issues with teachers/friends/bullies. If some families can head away to Bali twice a year during term what does one day invested in my kids health matter. I am open with why they didn't attend school and log it with the teacher as a mental health day."

"I let my kids take a day off every term if they need it. Even though they are little I think it's important to make them aware that they need to listen to their bodies and minds and look after them. Teaching self care at a young age is important."

"I give my daughter a MHD once a term - we do whatever she wants to do just for one day - whether it be stay at home and read, go out and be at the beach or see a movie. One day isn't going to hurt anyone and she feels great for the mental break. Her teachers in the past don't mind - they'd rather them be out of school and happy for the day than at school being stressed or acting out."

While others wanted a structured program for students out of school, with the involvement of parents.