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Students to be allowed up to five 'mental health days' starting this year

KVAL - Health
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EUGENE, Ore. (KVAL) – The Mental Health Days bill was recently signed into law, and supporters say it will provide needed support for kids of all ages.

Soon the halls will be full of students getting back to science, math and now a new course in self care.

Lane County Public Health’s recent healthy teens survey shows many of our students skip school because of mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

“They've had to come up with excuses for how to take care of that and this gives them the opportunity to be very open and be very honest about what's going on in their life,” said Doug Gouge, with Lane County Public Health.

Now the law allows students to take up to five mental health days in a three-month period.

“You see a lot of people struggling and taking unhealthy approaches to deal, going to school but going to school when they really shouldn't be there,” said Eleanna Sorensen, a former student at South Eugene High School.

Vista counseling owner and licensed psychologist, Ryan Scott, says how you use these days to your advantage depends on your condition.

“I think it's going to have to be a judgement call, people that know them well, investing in the child, checking in with them, what's leading to that situation, is there something else going on at school that may be causing some of that difficulty,” said Scott.

Though Scott is excited for kids to get the help they need, he warns avoiding the root of the problem is not the answer.

“Kids were already taking mental health days, adults take mental health days, we just call it something else,” he said. “So, this was already happening, in some ways this makes it more mainstream and acknowledges that this is an important thing we need to tend to as well.”

Starting this fall, vista counseling will host mindfulness classes for kids ages five through eighteen.

The hope is to help ease anxieties for students. The seventeen session class will starting at the beginning of October.

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