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A Day Off for Ohio Students

Adults often joke “I need a mental health day,” when they are in need of a break from work. Perhaps it is time we think about what children need in that regard, too. Ohio lawmakers are considering a proposal that would give K-12 students three mental health days a year, defining those days as being a time “during which a student attends to the student’s emotional and psychological well-being in lieu of attending school.”

“We need to break the stigma surrounding taking care of our mental health,” Rep. Jessica Miranda, D-Forest Park, told The Center Square. “With this legislation, we’re letting our children know that prioritizing their mental health is not only acceptable, it’s critical for achieving a healthy lifestyle. This mindset will help them succeed in school and beyond.”

It’s not a bad idea, and one to which lawmakers should give serious consideration.

However, school districts must also take seriously their responsibility to get to the bottom of why some students might need time away from the classroom to safeguard their mental health.

Are teachers and administrators doing all they can to stamp out bullying? Are mandated reporters doing their jobs in terms of alerting authorities when a child is suffering abuse, neglect or endangerment outside school hours?

Giving kids a day to decompress might be just the thing they need. For others, the help required goes beyond a day outside the classroom. Language in the bill must ensure kids are not simply given the day off.

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