OPINION: App State needs wellness days


Emily Escobedo Ramirez, Opinion Writer

Editor’s Note: This article contains mentions of suicide.

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Due to the rise of students’ worsening mental health, many universities have been creating “wellness days” or “well-being days.” These are designated days off of school for students to take care of themselves without having to attend classes. UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State are among the first universities in North Carolina to implement these into their academic calendars, citing the need to prioritize students’ mental health following the increase in student suicides on campus. However, App State has not opted into wellness days, even after a proposed SGA bill in 2020-21 sparked an interest. In a time when the world is going through disasters and death, mental health continues to be a pressing issue. The necessity for wellness days is increasing, and will only continue if no action is taken.

App State’s academic calendar for 2022-23 has a total of 35 days off for students consisting of 21 days for winter break, seven for fall/spring breaks, five for holidays and two reading days. In comparison, the statistics for NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill are as follows. UNC-Chapel Hill’s academic calendar for 2022-23 consists of 44 days off, split into 20 for winter break, seven for fall/spring break, five for reading days, five for holidays, five for well-being days and two for university closings. NC State’s 2022-23 calendar has 32 days off, allocating 15 days for winter break, seven days for spring/fall breaks, five for holidays, four reading days and one wellness day. App State pales in comparison; NC State has made plans to incorporate more wellness days into its schedule, and UNC-Chapel Hill shows no signs of stopping its wellness days. And with the school’s plans of remote learning for any inclement weather, not even snow or rain induces a day off for students. It is shocking that while our fellow public schools here in N.C. advocate and ensure well-needed school breaks, our school has not. And with positive results coming from both universities, what is stopping App State from following suit? 

There are many reasons why wellness days are necessary, mainly stemming from the stressful college environment. Requiring students to attend classes every day while navigating jobs, extracurricular activities and managing personal lives is a difficult expectation to hold. For some, taking a day off means falling behind and negative consequences to their grades through zeros or penalties, depending on each professor’s individual policy. 

 All this stress and emotion adds up over time and can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms ranging from self-harm, depression and worst case, suicide. In a study conducted by American Addiction Centers in 2022, 34.3% of students used alcohol, 66.5 % slept and 7.1% used unprescribed study drugs to help them in trying times. Utilizing substances or unhelpful acts are detrimental to both short and long-term health. Students should not have to sacrifice their mental health and energy at this time when the world is facing multiple shootings, threats and violent acts. 

While the university provides counseling services free of charge for students, it would be incredibly beneficial to both students and staff to have designated breaks throughout the academic year. App State should not have to wait for student deaths or tragic events to occur before implementing wellness days — students and staff deserve it.