DCGA explores mental health days for students

Samara Benza/The Denisonian

SAMARA BENZA, Asst. News Editor—The National Alliance on Mental Illness has a saying: “One in five people has a mental illness but five in five people have mental health.”

As last year proved to Denison’s campus, mental health is an important topic that must be taken care of. Some members of DCGA, Denison’s student government on campus, are hoping to implement a policy that allows students to have two mental health days a semester.

The logistics of the mental health days would be this: two days for each class, every semester (in addition to the class’s attendance policy) where students can miss class and take care of their mental health. Students would not be penalized for missing these classes.

Nathaniel Beach, ‘20, a philosophy, politics and economics (PPE) major from Canal Winchester, Ohio, and Diana Lopez, ‘20, majoring in anthropology and sociology from Chicago, along with the entire DCGA executive board, Dean Fox, and the Campus Affairs Committee are working on implementing this policy.

Lopez stresses the importance of taking mental health days when she states: “mental health days are important for breaking barriers — hesitation and stigmas — and reconstructing awareness, compassion, and understanding of one another.”

Beach, Speaker of the House for DCGA, brought the idea to the DCGA floor.

Beach realized after “all of the incidents that occurred and with all the drama that happened with DCGA…mental health is at an all-time low on our campus.” Beach continued, “I thought what a reasonable solution would be that wouldn’t be asking too much of administration but would also benefit students and their mental health.”

The goal is to give students a little more breathing room. Beach explains that the “current academic standards that are in place in our syllabus through attendance don’t do anything to help the problem if anything it kind of makes the problem worse.”

If you skip class your grade will suffer but if your mental health is bad then your grades are most likely already suffering. Beach believes that negative reinforcement does not help students and that having the ability to take off a day here or there will be easier all around.

The question arises of skip days: would students just use these mental health days as a skip day? Beach offers this solution: “if students want to take that day to skip it’s their choice, we’re all adults here. We don’t want the university to necessarily baby their students by implementing a bunch of things to make sure that every student is responsible.”

Beach states that this policy would ideally be implemented for the Spring 2020 semester but realistically it will be in place for the next academic year.

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