Students fight for mental health days, get school absences expanded

In what is apparently one of the first types of these laws in the country, students in Oregon are now allowed to take mental health days as an excused absence. Only one other state, Utah, offers similar rules and protections, The Associated Press reported.

The new law will treat mental and physical health the same, the AP reported.

Student leaders spearheaded the push for mental health days. Haily Hardcastle said she was spurred to action after the Parkland, Florida shooting.

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She said she came up with the idea to respond to what she called a mental health crisis in schools and to "encourage kids to admit when they're struggling."

Mental health advocate Debbie Plotnik says this is a first step in reducing the stigma around mental health.

"We need to say it's just as OK to take care for mental health reasons as it is to care for a broken bone or a physical illness," Plotnik told the AP.

Hardcastle admits that students will probably take the same amount of time off that they did before the law was passed, but they won't lie about why they're taking the day, the AP reported.

Students can legally take up to five excused absences in a three month period. Any more than that and the principal has to sign off on it, the AP reported.

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