Mental Health Days For Students In The US

It is a tough time for students around the world. When you have a never-ending to-do list of assignments and academic projects, taking care of your well-being isn’t a priority for you. Add a dash of post-pandemic anxiety and education challenges, and the well-being gets pushed down even further.

Scientists around the world use the term student mental health crisis as a silent epidemic. Wondering why? As per reports by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of young people taking mental health support has surged during the pandemic. Almost every one in four young adults in America is undergoing mental health treatment. 

The hard truth, students around the world are having a hard time, and we need to do better to help them.

Mental health days for students are gaining traction nationwide as states try to address the ever-worsening student mental health crisis. These days allow students to take time off from their stressful academic calendars and recharge and replenish for the days ahead. 

While not all states in the US have allowed mental health days for students, the number is constantly growing. In this post, we will dive deeper into the states allowing mental health days where mental health days for students are allowed or at least being discussed in the proposition. 

Mental health days for students

Which States Allow Mental Heath Days For Students In the US?

1. Washington

The State Superintendent and the State of Washington approved a new law in June 2022, allowing students across the state to use mental and behavioral health as the legible reason for absence from schools.

2. Illinois

Starting from January 1, 2022, all schools in Illinois are required to allow students five mental health days in a year. These days will be counted under excused absence and aim to encourage students to take care of their well-being and understand the importance of mental health. The law states that the student will not need a doctor’s prescription to avail of these leaves. However, the students and their guardians have to state that they are using a mental health day clearly.

3. California

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed bills 14 and 224 into law on October 8, 2021, allowing students across the state to take mental health days for mental and behavioral health issues. 

Read more: How Mental Health Affects Students

4. Maine

Maine Governor Janet Mills signed a bill in February 2020 allowing students to take mental health days off from school, stating cognitive and behavioral health concerns.

5. Colorado

The state of Colorado passed a bill in 2020 allowing mental health days for students. The new law requires the school’s district attendance requirements to incorporate excused absences for mental and behavioral health issues.

6. Oregon

The state of Oregon passed a bill as early as 2019 allowing its students to take five days off within a period of three months. These five days could include sick days along with mental health days.

7. Virginia

The state of Virginia also passed a bill in December 2019 allowing students to use mental health concerns as a valid excuse for absence from school.

8. Connecticut

The state of Connecticut passed a bill on July 1, 2021, allowing all its students to take two wellness days off from school every year as long as the leaves are not continuous. 

9. Utah

In May 2021, a new edition was made to Utah’s existing HB81 law, making mental and behavioral health concerns legible reasons for absence from schools.

10. Arizona

As of February 2021, students in Arizona can take mental health days like regular sick days. However, the exact policy differs according to district rules.

11. Nevada

Senate Bill 249 allows students in Nevada to take a mental health day off from school starting on July 1, 2021. However, students will need a note from a classified mental or behavioral health expert to avail of the leave.

12. Kentucky

Kentucky Governor Beshear passed House Bill 44 in April 2022 to allow students to take mental health days off from school. The said days would be counted as excused absences.

Read more: Signs That You Need To A Mental Health Day Asap

States Where Mental Health Day For Students’ Bills Are Pending

Apart from the above 12 states, there are several other states where bills allowing mental health days for students are in the pipeline. These states include the following:

  • New York,
  • Maryland,
  • Massachusetts, and
  • Pennsylvania.

Apart from them, there are currently 36 states with no legislation regarding mental health days for students.


Student mental health around the country is suffering, given the immense academic and social stress they endure daily. The pandemic has only exacerbated these concerns. Mental health days for students are a way to allow students to take care of their mental health. Twelve states in the country allow students to use mental and behavioral health concerns as a legible reason to take an absence from school.

Hopefully, more schools and states will incorporate such options in the future. 

Additionally, mental health days are essential not just for students but for working professionals as well. If you are a working professional looking to understand how to take a mental health day off from work, click here.

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