Mental health absences are necessary


Kelby Hutchinson, Staff Columnist

In my three years at The University of Alabama, only one of my professors has offered mental health as an excuse to miss class without a doctor’s excuse. This represents a problem for students that suffer from mental health issues and mental illness. Students want to pursue their education, but it can sometimes be difficult for them to attend classes, as it represents a challenge to their overall health.

A system of mental health absences could not only benefit those who suffer from mental health issues, but also those students who are struggling mentally due to the ups and downs of college life.

College life offers several obstacles that periodically leave students in shambles. The end of a relationship can spell disaster for some, while for others, it is being denied an internship or job. Some will lose loved ones, leaving them feeling utterly hopeless. However, with the exception of the latter, many of these problems don’t constitute a valid reason for many professors to miss a class. They will simply tell a student to live with rejection and heartbreak. To those professors, I ask: Is that how you felt when it happened to you?

  Yet, it seems as if the majority of the professors who don’t show empathy in these situations are typically from the baby-boom generation or early Generation X, who most likely didn’t receive the empathy of their professors in these situations either. Now, yes, they got through it. To those professors who claim we have gone “soft,” I say congratulations on how “tough” you all are. However, these generations also believed salt pills were the cure for athletes’ cramps and dehydration, that feathered hair was a viable fashion statement and that MacGyver was realistic. So, I don’t think it’s a stretch that they could possibly be wrong about how important mental health is in today’s society.

A report from the American Psychological Association released in June 2013 says that according to college counseling center directors, college students’ mental health is a growing concern. This study states that anxiety is the top concern, as it is present in 41.6% of college students. Depression follows at 36.4% and relationship problems at 35.8%. The other problem is that 19% of these directors report that the availability of psychiatric services on their campus is inadequate. This leaves those suffering from serious mental illnesses incredibly vulnerable and in need of understanding.

Yet at the end of the day, sometimes you just need a break from school to replenish your energy and enjoy your life. Enjoying life can be difficult when you’re stuck in an air-conditioned, artificially lit lecture hall of 200 people listening to someone groan on and on.

We live in a world where we are expected to do things at an unprecedented pace. Jobs that used to require a high school diploma now require college degrees, and we worry about the future and the mistakes of our parents and grandparents that we will have to fix if we are to have grandchildren of our own.

So, is one day too much to ask for so that we gain the mental capacity and learn the skills that will help us battle the issues we will face in the future? If this plea isn’t enough, perhaps the words of Ferris Bueller are: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”