LTTE: College students should be granted mental health days

Guest Author

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board. Letters to the Editor reflect the view of a member of the campus community and are submitted to the publication for approval.

To the Editor,


Today, there is still a stigma surrounding mental health issues, leading to the belief that emotional well-being is not as important as one’s physical health. Mental health and physical health are closely connected. Mental health plays a major role in a person’s ability to maintain good physical health, and it should not be ignored.

When it comes to the topic of mental health, college students should be able to take mental health days.

Addressing one’s mental health is more important than ever before. According to the United Health Foundation, as of September 2019, the rate of teen suicide in the United States has increased 25%. In Colorado alone, this rate has increased by 58%, making it the highest increase in the teen suicide rate since 2016. In this context, “teen” is defined as ages 15-19 years old, encompassing the age of both traditional college freshmen and sophomore students.

At the college level, there is a need to recognize that those are our students, and we have the power to implement change to address this issue.

Given this information, we should be more concerned with researching possible solutions to combat this — mental health days are just that: a solution.

The state of Oregon has recognized the increase (in suicide) and has chosen to act on it. The state has passed legislation allowing students to take mental health days. This law went into effect in July 2019, granting students up to five mental health days within a three month period. Experts state that this will “empower students to take care of their mental health and help break down the stigma around mental health.”

Not only are mental health days important in addressing the prevalence of teen suicide, they are also important in ensuring students are achieving well academically. According to a recent study, between 15% and 23% of college students suggest a negative impact on their personal and academic performance due to their mental health.

When we allow students to take charge of their own mental health, we are allowing them the self determination and personal autonomy to decide what they need.

With that statistic in mind, studies have also shown that college students with mental illness are twice as likely to drop out without obtaining a degree.

In making mental health a priority, we are instilling a positive change to many students’ overall academic success, while also ensuring higher graduation rates.

Being a student, we’re expected to attend class, complete homework, maintain a job and find time to study. As well, we must maintain our personal well-being, which includes staying active, eating healthy meals and getting enough sleep. This leads to an overwhelming feeling of stress. Stress is a real psychosocial factor that can have negative consequences on a college student’s academic and social life, as well as their personal mental health.


Students who have difficulty handling stress struggle to adjust to the many academic and social pressures associated with transitioning to college and, as a result, are at risk of academic failure, deteriorating mental health and/or dropping out.

A common notion is that students would take advantage of these mental health days and use them poorly, and that may happen. However, what people don’t realize is that mental health days are to address the issues we are seeing.

If five students use mental health days for the wrong reasons, and one student uses their mental health days to take care of themselves, practice the self-care they need and return to school the following day feeling better mentally and ready to learn, we have succeeded.

When we allow students to take charge of their own mental health, we are allowing them the self determination and personal autonomy to decide what they need.

Mental health days would be a great start to break down the stigma of mental health and empower not only Colorado State University students, but all students in ensuring they get the care they need to take care of themselves and function as the best students possible.

Danielle Hardy

CSU Social Work Graduate Student