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Opinion: Meredith Should Have Mental Wellness Days

Content warning: mentions of suicide

With only a few weeks remaining in the semester, students and faculty are burnt out. College is stressful. Everyone needs a day to recharge from the constant assignments, final exam preparation and essay writing required in classes. With the majority of students feeling that their mental health has worsened during the pandemic, Meredith College should provide students and professors with a mental wellness day that would give them the opportunity to de-stress.

Our generation was already struggling with high rates of mental health issues before the pandemic, but now, according to a survey conducted by Education Week, about 56% of college students are struggling with poor mental health after living through a pandemic for over a year. As a generation, we have started to normalize struggling with mental health issues and made efforts to spread the message that it is perfectly acceptable to not feel great 100% of the time. This is especially true with all the exciting but stressful life changes that college students experience.

Mental wellness days are days where there are no classes and no classwork is expected of students. During these times, students are encouraged to take time to unwind and focus solely on doing things that help ease their minds.

Many colleges and universities across North Carolina, like NC State, have designated days off for mental wellness. Due to several recent student suicides, UNC Chapel Hill decided to give students and staff a mental wellness day to focus on rest and self-care. Meredith has also been touched by this issue and many students on campus say they would like to see additional steps being taken to ensure students have the support they need, and that the mental health of students and staff alike should be a top priority for Meredith’s leadership.

Olivia Skaggs, ‘24, said she believes that our society is in a crisis and that something must be done about it within our school. “Meredith should recogniz[e] that mental health struggles are higher than ever before and more suicides are occurring,” she said.

When asked about the benefits of mental wellness days, Laurie Ponder, ‘22, said that “[it] would give students a day of rest and recuperation.” She added, “Ideally, I would love it to be implemented for future students two days a month due to the high expectations of Meredith College’s academic…requirements. Students need as much of a break as do faculty with grading.”

As the end of the semester is near, remember to take care of yourself as best as you can. If you or someone you know is in a crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The crisis center provides free and confidential emotional support 24/7. The Meredith College Counseling Center is also available at 919-760-8427 for appointments. For more resources on where to find mental health resources at Meredith, check out the Counseling Center’s website.

By Rania Abushakra, Staff Writer



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