A bill was recently signed into law by Governor Kate Brown in the state of Oregon that will allow students to take a mental health day as an excused absence in school. Allowing mental health days for students has been hailed by many as an important step for Oregon state student health. House Bill 2191 explains that sickness that allows an absence to be excused can be either physical or mental.
Oregon follows the example of Utah. In 2018, the Utah State Legislature changed the definition of valid excuses. This shift allowed students in Utah to be excused for absence due to physical or mental illness. These steps are important and represent a growing understanding nationwide of the impact mental health has in adolescence.
Why Are Mental Health Days Important for Students?
Mental health issues in teens must be addressed for the sake of their growth and development. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, statistics collected in 2017 show that teens face a variety of mental health challenges:
- 31.5% of teens felt persistently sad or hopeless
- 17.2% of students in high school contemplated suicide
- 13.6% of students in high school had made a suicide plan
- 7.4% of students in high school attempted suicide at least once
Oregon mental health and teen counseling are available through the school system. This includes behavioral intervention, treatment for trauma and early intervention for younger students. These services are vitally important because, according to the National Education Association, students who are suffering from mental health conditions may have additional trouble in school, including:
- Inability to focus
- Inability to do classwork or homework
- Bullying or aggression
- Anti-social tendencies
- Increased likelihood of substance abuse
- Failing a grade
Outcomes seen by mental health professionals after mental health interventions include improvement in time management, goal-setting, problem-solving and decreased absenteeism and suspension rates.
State of Teen Mental Health in Oregon
Teen suicide statistics in Oregon are measured by county by the Oregon Health Authority. Numbers indicate that death by suicide for teens tend to be higher in urban counties, such as Portland, where there were 7.8 deaths by suicide for every 100,000 people between the ages of 10 and 24 from 2013-2016.
A comprehensive survey done by the Oregon Health Authority in 2017 provides additional teen mental health statistics. According to this survey, suicide is the second highest cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 24 who live in Oregon. Associated factors for suicide include
- Family issues
- Substance abuse
- Problems with relationships
- Legal issues
- Access to guns
Mental health services for teens are an important way to prevent suicide and other long-term effects of mental health issues. Allowing students to take a mental health day sends a powerful message about the importance of mental wellness.
If you or someone you love struggles with a mental health disorder and co-occurring substance abuse, The Recovery Village Ridgefield can help. You’ll speak with a caring intake coordinator who will discuss your specific situation and a treatment plan to address your needs.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data Summary and Trends Report 2007-2017.” 2017. Accessed August 24, 2019.
Oregon Health Authority. “2017 Oregon Healthy Teens Survey.” February 2018. Accessed August 24, 2019.
Oregon Health Authority. “Suicide in Oregon.” Accessed August 24, 2019.
Oregon School District. “Mental Health.” Accessed August 24, 2019.
Oregon State Legislature. “House Bill 2191.” 80th Oregon Legislative Assembly, June 17, 2019. Accessed August 24, 2019.
Utah State Legislature. “H.B. 234 Compulsory Education Revisions.” 2018 General Session. Accessed August 24, 2019.
Walker, Tim. “Are Schools Ready to Tackle the Mental Health Crisis?” National Education Association Today, September 13, 2018. Accessed August 24, 2019.