Are mental health days helpful? An argument is raging that they’re not.

Writer Anya Kamenetz recently argued that mental health days for teenagers might actually be “really bad” for them. 

“… As a journalist who follows education and youth mental health closely, and as a mom, I’ve discovered that while the occasional day off is probably fine, mental-health days can have a dark side,” Kamenetz wrote for The Cut, adding that studies on school mental health days are not nearly comprehensive enough to prove that they are actually helping with depression or anxiety.

In fact, Kamenetz shared that she spoke to plenty of mental health advocates, teachers and parents who had mixed feelings on mental health days for kids.

“The problem, they say, is that in many common situations they see, missing school can be counterproductive for kids’ mental health and become a slippery slope, worsening the problems these days are trying to address.” And Laura Phillips, a senior neuropsychologist, told The Cut that allowing teens to remain home instead of going to classes only reinforced the idea that “school is scary”.

Are mental health days good for you or detrimental?

Carly Dober, who is a psychologist and the Director at the Australian Association of Psychologists Incorporated, tells Mamamia that mental health days are incredibly important for both adults and children — whether they need a moment of mental rest from school, home, or responsibilities that can wait to be handled another day.

“They’re meant to be a day for ‘you’, where you reduce commitments, give time to your stress levels, catch up on rest or movement and partake in activities that support your wellbeing,” Dober says. “They’re very, very important and it’s important for anyone, of any age, to take a mental health day.”