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SGA proposes ‘Mental Health Days’ in the spring semester

Before students were released for Thanksgiving break, a Bulk-E was sent out requesting them to take a survey. The survey, which the Student Government Association (SGA) requested be sent out to students, asked students for their opinion on the possibility of having ‘Mental Health Days’ in the spring semester.  

It has not yet been decided whether or not there will be Mental Health Days. Right now, campus officials and groups are having discussions about it.  

“As far as I know, no decision has been made,” said Bella L’Heureux , SGA Campus Engagement Director and junior in biology. “The proposal of Mental Health Days has to be discussed with a lot of different groups on campus and ultimately the decision will be up to the Provost and the Board of Governors. I know they are trying to gather as many faculty and student opinions as possible before making any final decision.” 

With the announcement of spring break being canceled, some students felt that they would experience burnout as a result of not having the time off that spring break offers.   

“As soon as the schedules for the Spring 2021 semester were announced for most of the Kansas universities, student governments all over the state began discussing alternatives and solutions,” L’Heureux said. “We first heard about Mental Health Days from Washburn University’s proposal after it was announced that they would not be having spring break at the regular time.” 

According to the survey results, most students voted for Mental Health Days.  

“We received great feedback from students,” L’Heureux said. “Our survey that went out had 713 students vote… We had 95.7% of students surveyed vote yes, 4.9% of students surveyed vote no, and 2.9% of students surveyed vote neutral.” 

Mental Health Days would be treated as holiday breaks are.  

“The ultimate goal is to have three to five days throughout the semester with no classes, lectures, labs, or any other academic organizations meeting,” L’Heureux said. “In other words, we want to see these days treated the same way holidays are—no homework assigned, class meetings, or lectures posted. It should be a day completely dedicated to the student and their mental health.” 

According to L’Heureux., having a few days throughout the semester would yield better results in academic success and improve students’ mental health in the spring semester.  

“I watched this semester wear down many of my peers to their breaking points,” L’Heureuxx said. “Even one day off per month to regather yourself, catch up on missing assignments, or simply relax can help students feel significantly less overwhelmed and exhausted. Fifteen straight weeks of coursework is going to be difficult for any student- not to mention students that have to work on the weekends, students involved in extracurriculars, or students with mental/physical disabilities.” 

Among student concerns was the possibility of more time spent in class.  

“Most comments I received were about the idea of adding extra class time if the Mental Health Day proposal were to pass,” L’Heureux said. “The Student Government Association’s ultimate goal is to not have any additional class time added to the Spring semester and it was apparent from student commentary in the survey that many students do not wish to see this either. 65.9% …of students surveyed did vote that they would be okay with additional class time if Mental Health Days were added, but most mentioned that this was not ideal.” 

Faculty members were sent a different survey about how they would feel about Mental Health Days.  

“The faculty and administrators were very outspoken about this proposal,” L’Heureux said. “We proposed Mental Health Days to both President Scott and the Faculty Senate. In attending many Faculty Senate meetings where we discussed Mental Health Days, it was apparent professors had many hesitancies. Right now, the major concern for professors is the idea that they might have to cram or condense curriculum if Mental Health Days were added. This would also potentially cause issues for classes who need to meet a certain amount of hours for accreditation. Faculty are also very stressed and worn down as well, and some worry about the extra work Mental Health Days would add to their already packed schedules. With that being said, other professors were in complete support of this proposal. I have had many professors directly reach out and share how much they feel their students and even themselves need these days off. There was a survey in which 85 Faculty voted- 60% no, 27.1% yes, and 12.9% maybe. However, the issue with this survey, as well as the student survey, is the survey size and potential for inaccuracy due to the small sample of people who voted.” 

According to L’Heureux, everyone involved has the best intentions and only want every one, students, professors, and instructors alike, to have a good semester.  

“Although this proposal might not pass, I have seen how hard many administrators, faculty members, and students have fought to make sure students have the best semester possible in the spring,” L’Heureux said. “I truly believe the people at Pittsburg State want the best for everyone during these adverse times. It is a hard decision to make and has weighed heavily on everyone’s mind involved. I am definitely proud to be attending this university no matter what happens.” 

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