Last semester Pitt State made the decision to move spring break to the end of the semester instead of having a break in the middle due to COVID-19 concerns and students traveling. Shortly after this announcement, Pitt State then asked students if they would be interested in built in mental health days during the semester. These built-in mental health days would be a specific number of days that Pitt State cancels classes to give students a break during the semester.
I wrote an opinion on this topic last semester when it was first announced. Since then, Pitt State has made their decision, so in reference to finding out they will not be giving students built-in mental health days, here is a follow up opinion focused on the negative impact this decision has had on students. Since the schools’ decision to not allow students a break in the semester, they have faced nearly constant backlash.
Many students have taken to social media to express their discontent. Students and faculty alike have made their burnout known online. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary the definition of burnout is “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.”
Students are not being given a break and they are suffering. People are even posting online threads of what to do to take care of one-self when experiencing burnout including self-care tips, mental health resources, and the suicide prevention hotline.
Pitt State has indeed seen the tweets, in fact they have even responded to a good handful of them. However, their responses are subpar at best. Stating that despite asking what students and faculty thought about mental health days Pitt State tweeted that they “made the decision that was best for the whole” and that it was too difficult to find days that fit with everyone to have off. Which bodes the question, how hard is it to just cancel a day of classes? Professors are able to work around snow days and keep on their schedule so how is adding a built-in day or two off here and there too difficult? The school provided very little insight into the reasoning despite the multitude of comments and posts they have made on twitter.
Some professors have come to the aide of students on-line stating that they understand how difficult this is for everyone and that they will not dock points from students taking mental health days from their classes.
However, not all professors are that understanding. Some professors will not allow mental health days or will continue to dock points for students who are already over worked and over stressed. Students are working part-time, full-time, and maybe even multiple jobs while being enrolled full time in classes.
While this opinion cannot speak for all students it can speak for some, and this student is struggling. While it is comforting to know that professors care for and understand their student’s mental health, it would be nice to know that the school they are paying to attend cares too. Everyone experiences burn-out and everyone needs breaks, whether they are children, adults, students, parents, or full-time workers.