School can be rife with stress, anxiety, panic attacks and even burnout — but there’s often no formal policy for students who need to prioritize their well-being. Hailey Hardcastle explains why schools should offer mental health days and allow students time to practice emotional hygiene without stigma.
In this Ted Talk titled “Why Students Should Have Mental Health Days,” Hardcastle gives a compelling case for why, as she puts it, “physical and mental health are equal and should be treated as such.”
In 2019, Hardcastle and her team passed a law in Oregon that allows students to take a mental health day off from school, the same way one would a sick day. Now, she’s working to expand the law to other states and bring more comprehensive mental health resources to classrooms.
Hardcastle got her start in student council as a statewide leader in Oregon. She now recruits other young leaders to create and lobby for policies regarding academics. Her mission: help students take control of their education and health by having a voice in the lawmaking process.
She currently studies at the University of Oregon and volunteers for the Oregon School Based Health Alliance as a policy advisor and board member. She was named one of Teen Vogues 21 under 21 most influential young people for her work on passing House Bill 2191, which allows students to take mental health days off from school. Hardcastle works with other teens nationwide to promote student advocacy and come up with creative solutions to teenage mental challenges. She hopes that her activism will inspire other young people to stand up and create change in meaningful ways.
Click on the video below to learn how she and a team of fellow teens transformed their advocacy into law.