The case for giving your kids mental health days from school

Rising children

When it comes to physical health, most parents and caregivers have a good idea of ​​when their young person is fit to go to school and when they are not.

One of the positives of COVID-19 has been greater acceptance that we should all stay home when we have a virus, to protect those around us.

However, it is not so simple when the problem is you. the child’s mental health. Knowing when to allow our youth to take time off from school opens up a gray area that can be difficult to navigate.

Children need some time

A psychologist is encouraging parents to allow their children “mental health days” off school. fake images

Almost all young people will go through experiences and moods that affect their ability or willingness to attend school. For example, if a young person experiences a traumatic event, he or she may need some time to recover. Adding the usual stress of school at a time like this could leave them feeling overwhelmed.

Additionally, when a young person is diagnosed with a mental health condition, a professional may suggest that they take regular days out of school to meet their mental health needs.

Therefore, when you are considering whether your young person should take a mental health day, it may be helpful to keep in mind that in many cases time is needed for treatment and recovery from mental health problems, just as it is for physical health problems. .

How is school going?

School attendance is important. We know that missing a lot of time at school can affect a young person’s academic performance and social life.

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As a child, your own mental health needs may not have been considered a sufficient reason to miss school, so you may feel conflicted about letting your child stay home for that reason. You might even wonder if they just want a day off from class.

Establishing some good foundations and habits as a family can be helpful in giving you a good ongoing understanding of your young person’s mental health.

The 10-point rating scale that helps parents

The boy and the mother stand in front of the school
Psychologists suggest a 10-point plan to manage your child’s mental health. fake images

Periodically ask them to rate how they feel on a ten-point scale.

If their score starts to drop, this could indicate that they are not in the best place when it comes to their mental health, so a mental health day could be beneficial.

If you decide to allow your young person time outside of school to support their mental health, setting expectations for how they use the time can help ensure that their time outside of class actually helps them feel better.

This could include things like attending an appointment with a mental health professional or spending time in nature. And while they may spend part of the day in front of their devices, prolonged screen time may not be the best for their mental health.

If your young person asks you to stay home from school regularly, or simply refuses to go to school, it is very important that you seek support, whether from their school, a mental health professional or a service. support. or even all three.

Linda Williams is a Senior Psychologist and Clinical Lead at ReachOut, Australia’s leading online mental health service supporting young people through difficult times.

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