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The Daily Tar Heel

'Even for a day': Students plan Mental Health Day self care

High-school student, Steven Zheng, spends his leisure time playing chess during an evening on Oct. 8, 2020.

Students have started making self-care plans for Friday, the day Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz encouraged professors to pause their classes for World Mental Health Day. 

Some students will have the opportunity to relax or take day trips, while others will still be in Zoom lectures and continuing the week as per usual. Because canceling class on this day is not mandatory, not everyone will have the day off.  

First-year Tekla Maisashvili, who will not have class on Mental Health Day, looks forward to spending her day off at the North Carolina Museum of Art with a friend. After spending her morning at the museum, she plans to catch up on schoolwork.

Maisashvili considers the day a good time to practice self-care activities and feels that her time spent with friends is adequate self-care. 

“I’ve felt like I’ve been almost falling behind ever since moving out of campus,” Maisashvili said. “Having this one day to rest and catch up is a relief.”

First-year Brennen Kosmeh does not have class and plans to spend this Friday at the beach with friends — and take time to sleep in more than usual. 

“When I decided to stay in the West Coast, my 9 a.m. class turned into 6 a.m. class, so not having to get up super early, even for a day, is really nice,” he said.  

For Kosmeh, Friday will be filled with relaxation and making memories with friends. But he recognizes that not all students will have this opportunity. 

“I wish they had made this mandatory, because I know some students don’t have class on Friday so it won’t affect them as much,” Kosmeh said. 

Among these relatively unaffected students is first-year Yasmin Cervantes Servin, who does not feel that her mental state will be influenced by the day’s designation because she still has a lecture to watch. She believes that the decision was a “cop-out” due to its taking place on a Friday, a day on which most students have fewer classes. 

"We believe that faculty flexibility and compassion on this day, and throughout the semester, will support and facilitate better student mental health," the University said in the email notifying students about the pause in classes. 

Though Cervantes Servin’s only Friday class has been made asynchronous for this week, she does not feel that this will lighten her workload. 

“I wish they would give us a real Mental Health Day. I’ve been needing a break,” she said.

Another student whose day will remain mainly the same is first-year Leo Alvarez, whose classes will not be on pause. While one of his professors made attendance optional and removed the graded portion of the course for the day, none of his classes have been canceled. 

Though these students will have different experiences with Mental Health Day, all agreed that they need a pause on coursework.

“I plan to go anyway, because I don’t want to miss anything, especially since it’s online,” Alvarez said. “In a perfect scenario, with this pandemic and with all the personal struggles we personally may be facing, I feel like a week would be a grounding type of break.” 

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