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The Dispatch

The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

Mental health awareness should be prioritized in all schools
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Bowie’s incentive policy: Who does it really help?

In+a+changing+world+where+student+mental+health+is+%E2%80%98prioritized%E2%80%99%2C+the+incentive+policy+contradicts+the+true+meaning+behind+the+mental+health+movements.
Layne Foxcroft
In a changing world where student mental health is ‘prioritized’, the incentive policy contradicts the true meaning behind the mental health movements.

The majority of students in high schools are tired, sick, or mentally not feeling well. The incentive policy that was put back into place a few years ago, which hasn’t been adjusted much after the decline of COVID-19, only allows those facts to become more and more true. 

In a changing world where student mental health is ‘prioritized’, the incentive policy contradicts the true meaning behind the mental health movements. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2021, 42% of high school students felt persistently sad or hopeless, 29% experienced poor mental health, and 10% had attempted suicide. This can be due to school and grades, the CDC said. 

As shown, high schoolers and teenagers have declining mental health and the incentive policy does not allow them to take the mental health days that could greatly benefit their lives. 

People may point out that students get to take days off or sick days and get a certain number of allotted absences before losing their incentives. Although this is true, the action of not attending school can also cause an equal amount of stress. 

Personally, I get burnt out somewhat easily. I also regularly think about staying home from school and taking a break. Every time this thought comes to mind, I think that the number of absences that would subtract from my incentive eligibility is more important than my mental health. 

This warrants a thought: does prioritizing attendance over mental health really make sense? Looking at it objectively, the answer is 100% no. This shouldn’t change no matter what ‘lens’ one puts on it, or whatever perspective one views it from. 

I recognize that these same high schoolers will one day most likely be working professionals and will not get this leniency in the ‘real world’. This being said, in a study conducted by the American Psychological Association, the amount of stress teens undergo is increasingly higher than adults, and that stress level only becomes higher while school is in session. 

I propose that James Bowie High School allows students to have a specific amount of mental health days. This change would be an amendment to the current incentive policy, and would also require student guardians to sign a slip acknowledging that the student is not attending school due to their mental health. 

This one change could provide a substantial difference in many students’ school lives, with the possibility of grades even rising, due to the break that they can finally take stress-free. I truly believe that this will benefit Bowie in the long term, helping students balance both their mental health with their attendance and grades. 

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