Enloe Reacts: Wake County Mental Health Day


Whether you’re a student, staff member, or parent, you’ve probably heard about the new non-instructional day the WCPSS board added, which will take place on Friday, November 12th. In an announcement, the board encouraged WCPSS employees to “work remotely on this day and use the time to reflect and prepare for the remainder of the semester.” This day will be non-instructional for students, and because of its proposed focus on reflection, many are calling it a “Mental Health Day” for staff and students. 

Many students and staff are looking forward to this non-instructional day as time to rest and recharge. This is especially important to an Enloe Teacher who says, “I am grateful for the mental health day [because] I value mental health and let students take time for themselves in class when they need it, but when I, as a teacher, need time, I can’t take it. I have to be ‘on’ all the time in the classroom because my students depend on me.” Mental health days are intended to provide the opportunity to take time to de-stress and catch up emotionally and physically. This includes time to tackle late and unfinished work, similar to the asynchronous days of virtual school, which provided students and teachers with extra time to remain on schedule. 

Additionally, some Enloe staff believe the extra time off could be good for our school in general: “We have a major shortage of substitutes, which puts added strain on teachers and staff,” says one Enloe teacher. “We have a shortage of buses, which puts added strain on students and families and admin. We have supply chain issues regarding basic hygienic materials needed for basic operation, which puts added strain on everybody. One day off is not going to solve all of our problems, but it is a gracious start.” Additionally, many are pleased that this added day falls on the Friday after Veteran’s Day, giving extra time to those wishing to honor loved ones. Other things students and staff are doing on the mental health day include taking long walks, stretching, sleeping in, spending time with family, or any other activity that can help clear their heads. Studies show that taking a break can improve decision-making and focus, encouraging progress in work, school, or any other project you’ve been stuck on. 

However, not all the potential effects are positive. Some parents of younger children expressed concern over a lack of childcare for this unplanned day off, causing excess stress over a day meant to reduce it. Some teachers are worried about falling behind in the curriculum, and for Mr. Goettman, a math teacher, this particularly affects his A-day students: “For most teachers, they have come to know the A and B-days as the ‘first’ group they teach, and the ‘last’ group. This one-off workday will cause most teachers to have to switch the order of the groups. My B-day is now my ‘lead’ day when it comes to starting a new unit. The A-day students, on the other hand, will go an entire week without seeing their A-teachers.”

As for the future of Wake County mental health days, the Enloe community seems open to more, with over 75% of a sample of staff, students, and parents voting “yes” on a survey asking if they want more days like this added to the calendar. Many hope that mental health days will be added in the future, preferably in spring, which currently has a few days off, many of which are teacher workdays. 

For more resources on how to make the most of your mental health day, check out this article from the Garden State Treatment Center.