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“Wellness Days”: Is it a sincere response to mental health?


At a special board meeting by the Johnston County Board of Education on Oct. 27, 2021, two “Wellness Days” and one optional teacher workday were added to the calendar. November 12 and 23 were added as “Wellness Days,” and November 22 as an optional teacher workday.

Johnston County Public Schools, in a statement on their website, states that “JCPS students and staff should use these Wellness Days as a way to rest and recharge, as we close out the first semester.” However, to myself and potentially others, this is merely a way to cover their own poor decisions in case they are accused of mistreating mental health issues.

To start off, let’s look at the November 12 “Wellness day.” November 11, the day before, is Veterans Day. This is on a Thursday, leaving Friday, Nov. 12 as a normal day. This leaves a one day gap in between Veterans Day and the weekend. That is an awkward schedule, so it would be best to fill this.

With UNC Chapel Hill recently declaring a Wellness Day after two student suicides on campus within a month, it is very possible that Johnston County saw how UNC Chapel Hill declared this, and decided to incorporate it into an already awkwardly scheduled day. The November 12 “Wellness day” was passed, making the November 11 through the 14 a four day weekend.

Now, onto the week of Thanksgiving. November 22, a Monday, was declared as an optional teacher workday. November 23 was then labeled as another “Wellness day.” While this was originally going to be a two day week followed by the five day weekend for Thanksgiving, this is now a full week of school off. On the two days before the break, that is typically the timeframe in which no new material is taught to students, and the two days are used to catch up on missing work. I personally cannot recall a time where we have learned new material on the two days leading up to the break. I’m sure the Johnston County Board of Education is aware of this, however, they only choose to address it now.

While I am grateful for the days off, I feel as if it’s the weakest response we could’ve gotten to mental health concerns. Personally, training counselors to properly deal with mental health crises would be one of the best responses, even if it does take time. Increasing awareness besides a day off students will most likely be doing homework on is not a sincere response to the mental health crisis affecting students and staff. It is only a matter of time before the school district realizes their response is simply an insincere attempt as a public relations move and that nothing about it is helpful to students. With mental health issues continuing to be problematic among students, Johnston County Schools must adapt to help the student and staff population before it’s too late.

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“Wellness Days”: Is it a sincere response to mental health?