Monday, Oct. 10, is World Mental Health Day. According to the World Health Organization, the purpose of this day is to raise awareness regarding mental health issues. It is important to support people who struggle with mental illness so that they do not feel they are suffering alone.
Connecticut colleges and universities should recognize Oct. 10 as a holiday and not hold classes that day.
I am a full-time graduate student at Central Connecticut State University. I work on campus and also dog-sit, which can be difficult to balance with classwork and spending time with friends. I’m far from alone. We all could use a break.
Based on the state university academic calendar for fall 2022, between Labor Day and the start of Thanksgiving recess, there are no days off. Midterms for most students at CCSU begin Oct. 24, so Oct. 10 would be an ideal time to give students the day off.
Many college students struggle to maintain mental health. According to the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America 2021 study, Gen Z adults aged 18 to 23, which is the college age group, reported significant stress levels. Of Gen Z students surveyed for the 2020 study, 87% said that their education was a major stressor. Students need a day off to avoid getting burned out.
Additionally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in June 2020, one in four people aged 18-24 had “seriously considered suicide” in the last 30 days. At this age, the brain is not fully developed, so there is a higher likelihood to act impulsively, especially under severe stress. This alarming statistic conveys how essential it is that colleges and universities recognize Oct. 10 with a day off so students can pause from the pressure of life.
Freshmen especially struggle in the fall semester. The ability to transition smoothly from high school to college is different for everyone, but in last year’s Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement, 53 percent of first-year students reported a substantial increase in mental and emotional exhaustion. A day off right before midterms would allow students to get extra sleep, go to the gym, have more time to study — and de-stress.
Universities could argue that students have plenty of time off in the spring semester with spring break, so they do not need an additional holiday. However, the fall is when some people experience seasonal affective disorder. According to the Yale Department of Psychiatry, SAD affects up to 11 million Americans every year. The symptoms are similar to depression and can affect mood, energy and sleep patterns. Lack of sunlight can contribute to SAD as hours of darkness increase in the autumn.
Observing World Mental Health Day on Oct. 10 with a day off from classes would convey to students that their university supports them and their mental health. Each person experiences a unique college journey, but all students feel overwhelmed at some point and need a day to regroup.
Isabella Alfano is a graduate student in communication at Central Connecticut State University.