With 18 days left of the semester, many students are feeling burnt out. The semester is coming to a close, and students are overwhelmed with exams, assessments, projects, and finalizing summer plans. April 28 is declared as a mental health day at the College. Whether appreciative or stressed, the general student sentiment was positive when the news was first released.
Personally, my excitement quickly turned into apprehension when I learned this day is on a Thursday. All classes normally scheduled for Thursday will be moved to Friday, meaning many students like me who normally have a three-day weekend will now have to attend class on Friday. I will now be in class until 4 p.m. on a Friday which is definitely not my ideal schedule.
This change is not only frustrating for students but is counterintuitive. Why would the school choose to place our day off on a Thursday instead of simply granting everyone a three-day weekend? I will not speculate, but I will assert that this schedule is simply not what is best for students.
If anything this “mental health day” has led to more confusion and frustration among students. The simple solution would be giving us Friday off so everyone gets a much needed three-day weekend when they can actually rest, reset, and recharge.
I initially shared in many students’ excitement when I first heard that Colby would be granting students a mental health day this year.
Nick Mueller ’24 said, “I think mental health day is important because it gives everyone a day to reset before the stress of finals week starts.”
According to Jackson Herz ’22, “the day shows that the administration does care about students’ emotional health.”
If the administration truly wanted to make an impact on mental wellbeing across campus, however, they would provide more than one “mental health day” a year and work to improve mental health resources on campus.
“That being said,” Herz explained, “I think it is pretty symbolic in nature. I would prefer for the admin[istration] to find more proactive and structured ways to support their students throughout the semester rather than just arbitrarily pick a day to check a box.”
We deserve more than just a single day off and a highly advertised but not so functional mobile app to improve the mental health at this school. Students need counselors that are readily available. Students should be able to get an appointment in under two weeks. Though the services are accessible, having to wait over a month for an appointment is not an uncommon experience. Just this week, I have spoken to many students who have shared that counseling services are not returning their calls, even after they have left several messages.
Abby Eng ’22 said some requests are more accessible than others. “I have found that Heather at the front desk is very responsive to fulfilling needs for appointments,” she said. “I don’t think there are enough counselors, but the office is limited in space.”
“If you just need thirty minutes, I’ve been able to find those pretty easily with the same counselor,” Eng mentioned.
Colby needs to create changes that will actually improve students’ mental health by providing efficient, effective help. A good start would be changing our mental health day to Friday instead of Thursday.
Harriet Winterer ’25 added, “I think it’s great that the school is trying to make some space for students to have a mental health day, but it seems a bit performative to me. They didn’t actually create this day, they just slotted it into the symposium day. It was convenient that it filled in an empty space, but convenience detracts from authenticity sometimes and I think this is an issue it’s important to be authentic in caring about.”
Most importantly, Colby needs to work to create campus-wide conversations that reduce the stigma around mental health, so people can support each other and see tangible change.
~ Tara Goday `24