Teachers use "mental health day" mostly as euphemism, spoken furtively, apologetically, as if admitting an embarrassing weakness. I encourage colleagues to treat their mental health equally with their physical health. I tell them I see my therapist every other week and have for fourteen years.
That gives them pause. Mental health isn't all that much discussed round here.
My current mental health is shaky and I have trouble admitting it. I saw my therapist yesterday and she was concerned. I am too. It's almost more than I can stand to think of going to school. I don't know that I can take the abuses.
Yesterday no fewer than four kids told me to fuck off. One said I was a racist and that wasn't the most offensive thing he said. I am told to write these things up, but I flee the building as soon as contractually possible and had only a twenty minute break. There was no time for write-ups. There won't be time tomorrow either. Besides, experience shows that little good comes of the write-ups and they can make things worse.
I would take a mental health day but last year received a counseling memo saying I had taken too many days off. I'm allowed far more days by contract and all were approved, but the memo, which warned of possible further disciplinary action including dismissal, has had a chilling effect.
In the last year and a quarter my school and job have changed dramatically. Increasingly, I need mental health time, but worry about further disciplinary action and dismissal.
I don't want to crack up and go out on disability. I would rather be proactive and treat things before they get out of hand. I've seen one teacher break down. I don't want that to be me.
Mental health days aren't euphemisms. They are serious business. We teachers need to take our mental health seriously. Our students need healthy teachers. Our children need healthy parents. Our spouses need healthy spouses. And we deserve healthy lives earned by taking care of ourselves as outlined in our contracts.
Though I know I should stay home and rest, I'll be at school today, tomorrow, and next week. I'm not sure that's good for any of us.