+
Illinois is fighting the anxiety crisis by giving students five mental health days a year
via Pexels

There is a mental health crisis among America's youth. Major depression in adolescents is up 47% for boys and 65% for girls since 2013 and suicide has increased a staggering 56% from 2007 to 2017 according to the National Federation of State High Schools.

Experts have yet to pin down the specific causes of this crisis but it's believed that increased pressure to succeed, unrealistic expectations caused by social media, and technology's effect on how humans connect may be contributing factors.

"Most experts would agree with me that there is more stress today than in previous generations. Stress triggers depression and mood disorders, so those who are predisposed to it by their creative wiring or genes are pretty much guaranteed some symptoms of depression at the confusing and difficult time of adolescence," Therese J. Borchard, author of "Beyond Blue," says.


"I think modern lifestyles — lack of community and family support, less exercise, no casual and unstructured technology-free play, less sunshine and more computer — factors into the equation," Borchard continues.

On top of the societal factors that have led to a decade-plus decline in mental health, the COVID-19 pandemic has also been hard on American youth.

Pritzker with President Biden earlier this year

To help children and teens better cope with the increased stress in their lives, the state of Illinois is now allowing students to take up to five mental health days per year without a doctor's note. The new law was signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker last week.

The bill passed the Illinois House and Senate unanimously.

Illinois now joins Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, and Virginia on the growing list of states that have passed similar bills.

The new law is a big step towards removing the stigma surrounding mental health by making it as important as students' physical well-being.

"It's critical that schools are offering support to students who struggle with their mental health," state Representative Barbara Henandez said in a statement. "Just as we would allow a student with a cold or fever to stay home from school, students should be able to have the same treatment for days where they need a break for their mental health."

Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz, medical director of the Child Mind Institute, says we should use mental health days as a way to allow children to celebrate big achievements in school such as completing a big project.

However, if the child is suffering from anxiety or depression, Koplewicz believes that parents and faculty should refer to them as sick days instead of mental health days to remove the sigma.

"Sick days are sick days, whether it's physical or mental," he said.

via Pixabay

In addition to giving kids the mental breaks they desperately need, mental health days are a way to normalize self-care. When schools promote routines that prioritize mental health, they normalize these behaviors and teach children that their mental health is just as important as their physical.

It's great that multiple states are now putting the mental health of their students front and center, but the most important focus should be on fixing the societal problems that have led to the mental health decline in the first place.

Let's see what happens when we start giving kids technology-free days where they look at the world around them through their eyes, instead of a screen, and see how things begin to change.

Celebrity

U.S. Soccer star expertly handles an Iranian reporter’s loaded questions about race.

Tyler Adams’s response proves exactly why he’s the captain of the US soccer team.

Tyler Adams expertly handles Iranian reporter's question

Reporters are supposed to ask the right questions to get to the truth but sometimes it seems sports reporters ask questions to throw you off your game. There's no doubt that this Iranian reporter who was questioning Tyler Adams, the US soccer team captain at the press conference during the World Cup had an agenda that didn't involve getting to the truth.

It's not clear if the questions were designed to throw the young player off of his game or if the goal was embarrassment. It really is hard to tell, but Adams handled the unexpectedly harsh encounter with intelligence and poise when some may have found it justified for him to get angry.

Keep ReadingShow less

Phil Collins and George Harrison

This article originally appeared on 12.01.21


Beatle George Harrison was pigeon-holed as the "Quiet Beatle," but the youngest member of the Fab Four had an acerbic, dry sense of humor that was as sharp as the rest of his bandmates.

He gave great performances in the musical comedy classics, "A Hard Days Night" and "Help!" while holding his own during The Beatles' notoriously anarchic press conferences. After he left the band in 1970, in addition to his musical career, he would produce the 1979 Monty Python classic, "The Life of Brian."

Keep ReadingShow less

"Time is the one thing we cannot increase.”

Over his seven years as host of “The Daily Show,” Trevor Noah brought us laughter and valuable insights, even with a pandemic and political upheaval. He made such a positive mark that the announcement of his departure from the show came as bittersweet news to fans.

During an interview with Hoda Kotb of “Today,” Trevor Noah gave further explanation to his personal decision to leave, and in typical Noah fashion, it touched on something universal in the process.

“I realized during the pandemic,” he told Kotb, “everyone talks about a ‘work-life balance.’ But that almost creates the idea that your work and your life are two separate things. When in fact, I came to realize during the pandemic that it’s just a ‘life-life balance.’ It’s just your life.”

Keep ReadingShow less
popular

10 ways kids appear to be acting naughty but actually aren't.

Many of kids' so-called 'bad' behaviors are actually normal developmental acts of growing up.

This article originally appeared on 07.19.17


When we recognize kids' unwelcome behaviors as reactions to environmental conditions, developmental phases, or our own actions, we can respond proactively, and with compassion.

Here are 10 ways kids may seem like they're acting "naughty" but really aren't. And what parents can do to help.

Keep ReadingShow less