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Letter: Excused absences for mental health will reduce teen suicide

SHARE Letter: Excused absences for mental health will reduce teen suicide
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An empty classroom inside the Utah Valley University Science Building is pictured on Friday, April 20, 2012.

Sam Penrod, Deseret News

Is taking a mental health day a valid excuse for a school absence? The answer should be an astounding yes! Critics may be concerned about the ability to abuse these absences from school, because after all, mental health issues are hard to measure. But let’s look at what we can measure: suicide is the leading cause of death for Utahns ages 10-24. Every student is impacted by suicide in some way.

It is time to destigmatize our mental health struggles. Taking a mental health day from school allows students to take care of their mental and emotional health. Everyone needs a break sometimes. Another huge benefit is that the absence is recorded at the school and after a certain amount, the school counselor can do a check-in and help with issues before it is too late. Early intervention is key.

Legislative bills that advocate for mental health days have been passed in other states with great success, including a reduction in suicides. We should be focusing on everything we can do to decrease the number of youth suicides, and that includes allowing for mental health breaks from school.

For more information, see House Bill 81.

Sarah Moss

Fruit Heights