The Importance of Mental Health Breaks

The Importance of Mental Health Breaks

Shaya Scales, Staff Writer

There has always been a negative stigma around mental health and an even greater misconception around students taking mental health breaks. Taking care of stress and anxiety should be a priority, so why is taking a mental health break so misunderstood? 

“I wish teachers understood that sometimes it’s better for kids not to be in class when they cannot focus due to anxiety. Being in class gives a false impression that since you were there you know what’s going on, but when you are in your head you’re not taking in any information,” social worker Mr. Dan Maigler said.

There is an interesting split in expectations in regards to prioritizing mental health. On one hand we are told to take all measures to reduce anxiety, but on the other hand, there is an underlying perception that it is disappointing when you sign out of class due to stress. At times it is necessary for a student to take a day off school to regain a sense of well being and be ready to face the classroom again with energy and optimism. 

“There are so many teachers who are so supportive, yet it is so difficult to feel like you are getting a break when so many classes are not empathetic regarding mental health absences,” senior Sydney Rubinstein said.

Lake Forest High School has resources available for students who are struggling. Not every student has the support at home that they need to manage anxiety as many parents and caregivers have a lack of time, knowledge, and understanding of mental health issues. Taking time to speak with a school social worker or taking a break to breathe, calm your mind, and regroup are essential elements in managing anxiety and elevating productivity at school. 

Senior John Turelli believes that making the best choice for yourself lies in knowing what you need to do to get back to a mentally calm place. “I think it’s important to be lenient with mental health breaks,” he said, “because by limiting one’s ability to advocate for themselves, you are subsequently invalidating their mental state and discouraging them from making positive decisions that prioritize their wellbeing.” 

Anxiety can manifest itself in many ways in the body; physical symptoms are very real to anyone who has experienced profound stress. Physical distress can make it impossible to focus in class, and taking time out to calm your nervous system is a powerful way to alleviate symptoms. 

“It’s not actually a benefit to the student or the teacher if they are in class but they are not in a place for learning,” Maigler said. 

Many students struggle with mental health issues, and learning to manage and overcome them is crucial to leading a happy, healthy life. Mental health breaks combat stress and are a great way to get your mind back to a place where learning is a positive experience.