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Opinion: Amid a semester lacking substantial breaks, students should receive a mental health day

Student stress increases due to pandemic, election, academics 

Mental burnout is very present in the Fall 2020 semester. In this already stressful time, students are still given an increased supply of work. Without a fall break and with Thanksgiving break cut short, students should be provided with a mental health day to catch up on sleep and relax. 

The extra day would give students a chance to remain sane amidst the long-awaited presidential election, the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, and the challenges of a first semester of college for the first-year students.

While the majority of the election results are finalized and Joe Biden has been elected as the next president, the past few months have contained endless political debates between friends and family. Political tension raises anxiety levels, whether we acknowledge it or not. Politics make up so much of everyday life without people realizing it. 

I’ve only been on campus for a few months, but I have already noticed how politically active the Rollins community is. This election is especially partisan because of the strong language both parties have used for the past four years. Everyone has a personal connection to the election, which increases its meaningfulness while also increasing stress. The constant go go go of school work without a chance to stop and look at the outside world can lead to chaos in the community. 

Students are living through an unprecedented time. Most students, who haven’t even reached their early twenties, are living through a worldwide crisis as well as the United States’ own political midlife crisis. The pandemic limits contact with loved ones while isolating students from their families for at least the first semester. The lack of support most students feel right now doesn’t help with their overall mental health. 

In addition to the lessened support, students have to deal with the possibility of contracting a deadly virus and transmitting it to others. This thought is always at the back of our minds, affecting every decision we make and influencing our stress levels.

As a first-year student, I’m dealing with the transition to college on top of everything else occuring in the United States. The new college atmosphere and piles of work definitely don’t help with the pressures of this year. Although my family lives relatively close and I can visit them whenever I want, it’s difficult to live on my own for the first time. 

If I’m having trouble with the transition, then hundreds of other students in my year are most likely struggling to juggle all of these issues as well. A mental health break could let first-year students make sense of this new environment they’ve entered into and a chance for all students to catch their breaths.

Rollins could enact an early, extra Fox Day this semester before students get too high strung. Twenty-four hours of relaxation and no school work could give students a chance to take time for themselves amidst the chaos of the usual school day. 

If there’s no way to push for an extra day off in the first semester, Rollins could enact mandatory small-group therapy for all freshmen. This way, the school could check up on the new students, and freshmen can realize that they are going through this difficult time together. Simply having students take a few minutes out of their day to unwind can make all the difference in the world when it comes to mental health.

The combination of the election, COVID-19, transitioning to college, and personal issues create the perfect storm for a mental health breakdown. With no chance to catch a break, students are more likely to fall ill to the pressures of the world. 

The opinions on this page do not necessarily reflect those of The Sandspur or Rollins College.

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