Wellness Day…on a Friday

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Dylan Daniels, Opinions Writer

Wellness Day is a day that Harriton dedicates to students’ mental health, as mental health challenges impact 1 in 3 adolescents’ day-to-day life. Normalizing this experience and raising awareness is critical to making students feel comfortable and accepted in the school environment; and Harriton students are fortunate enough to have this experience. 

 

Wellness Days send a message that Harriton cares about students’ personal well-being. However, this message has faded since the school transitioned away from Wellness Wednesdays. Originally, Wellness Days were strategically placed in the middle of the school week to help students get through the long five days that each week entails. This placement was most beneficial to students, who found that Wellness Wednesdays were the perfect way to break up a week full of assessments, presentations, and assignments.

 

Another aspect of Wellness Days that is extremely notable, is that these days allow students and teachers to form closer connections than in usual structured classes, and enjoy more time together. On Wellness Days, students can sign up for activities based on their interests, which are run by teachers – and this year even other students – allowing students to connect with others who share the same interests. 

 

However, this year’s first Wellness Day, which will take place on December 23rd, was placed on a Friday. This change in weekday has presented a new issue for Wellness Days: lack of attendance. When Wellness Days took place mid-week, this issue was not as prominent, however, placing Wellness Day on a Friday encourages students to take a longer weekend, and many will do just this. Additionally, December 23rd is not only a Friday, it is also the Friday before Winter Break, a day notorious for having the most absences of the entire school year. Placing Wellness Day on this day in particular not only creates a lack of attendance and participation, but has also upset many students. 

 

Fridays are typically the day of the week that students enjoy the most, and the day students feel the less stressed, because the week is winding down and the weekend is near. Many feel that placing Wellness Day on a Friday ruins the entire point of the day, as it will offer solace after the stress of the week has already passed, undoubtedly having less of a positive impact on students’ mental health.

 

Students also agree that a Wellness Day would be most beneficial when placed before midterms or a couple of weeks after Thanksgiving. It is certainly not needed most when Winter Break is right around the corner. While the intent is there, placing this year’s Wellness Day on the Friday before Winter Break seems to show a lack of understanding of the point of these important days. Wellness Wednesdays are by far the better choice for both students and staff, offering the midweek relief that is really needed. 

 

But I do think it is important to recognize that many schools do not have this day at all. Harriton students have definitely found Wellness Days to be something positive that brings the school community together and benefits mental health and students’ well-being. Yet, there are undoubtedly changes that can be made to change Wellness Days for the better.