Local districts give students a mental health day off from school

Thursday, November 11, 2021
Local districts give students a mental health day off from school
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Wake County licensed clinical mental health counselor Renee Avis recommends doing something not school-related on the day off.

School districts including Wake, Durham, Johnston and Cumberland counties are giving students Thursday off to focus on their mental health.

"Just overwhelmed and stressed out," said Wake County middle schooler Harmonee Adams about how she's feeling.

The 13-year-old said she's stressed out by all her school work. She's hoping to get some rest during her mental health day off from school.

"It's good because with all of the stress and all of the work they assign," Adams said.

Her mom agrees. Two of her five kids are getting the day off.

"It's good for them to just be able to clear their head from all their school work," she said. "I feel like sometimes kids do get overwhelmed with all the school work that's given to them."

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Elizabeth Johnson plans to take her four kids to the museum and park.

"I think it's fantastic," Johnson said. "I think that kids have been through crazy amounts of things these past couple of years and I think that we need to do more to help the mental health of the children."

Wake County licensed clinical mental health counselor Renee Avis said there are many expectations on children these days and that they need downtime and to take a break from the daily stress of being in school. She recommends doing something not school-related tomorrow.

"So if the weather's nice, hitting one of the greenways or the parks, just getting outside for a little bit," Avis said. "Going to the local museums in Raleigh or Durham could be something fun to do. Just staying home and watching a movie or playing some games."

Annie Schmidt is the executive director of NAMI Wake County, which advocates for those living with mental health conditions.

"This has been an incredibly tough time for everybody but especially kids, families and those in schools, that there's been a lot that they've been juggling over this past 21 months," Schmidt said. "And so I think that this is something that will be helpful to everybody. And just taking that extra time to breathe, to get through the rest of the year."

She said parents should look out for these warning signs:

"If your child is a little bit more withdrawn, if they're not enjoying things that they used to do, if the eating habits or sleeping habits change, where they're sleeping too much or too little, they're eating a lot more or they're not eating a lot. Things that you're able to see in their daily routine."

If you need mental health resources for your children, you can start by reaching out to your child's school.

The Hope 4 NC helpline is another resource.

NAMI has a helpline.

Wake County also has some resources.