Since when does two days off count as a reading break?

Every student knows the amount of stress school causes. We have all been there for those midnight caffeine-infused study binges, the quick cry before a test, or even those weekends where our sweatpants do not come off our bodies while our mug gets refilled with coffee multiple times during the day. As well, every student looks forward to our breaks, both spring and fall. But why don’t we have a longer fall break, if our spring break is a full week?

The February reading break was implemented as a result of an increased rise of poor mental health among students. The hope is that by having a week at the supposed toughest time of second semester, students will be able to use that time to relax, catch up, and work on keeping their mental health stable.

The assumption, the, is that our fall break is the same. The break occurs in the same time of the semester, yet is only 2 days, and coincides with the day we would get off because of Remembrance Day.

Research shows that mental health does not vary greatly during each time in the semester. According to an article on Ontario universities, the fall break, and mental health, (found here) suicide rates rose during the fall semester, around the time of the break.

The article notes that there’s a lot of anxiety and homesickness, as well as younger students who are transitioning at the time. As well, many students felt more overwhelmed at the start of the next semester after having no break during the fall semester.

In an article by the Globe and Mail, students shared their experiences with the fall semester. One student shares that her transition was incredibly tough, and she barely got out of bed. Along with lacking counselling services, and no break, she struggled until finally working up the courage to get help. This article also notes that suicide, anxiety, and depression rates among students have been steadily rising year after year.

Image from UBCO's Facebook Page.
Image from UBCO's Facebook Page.

Universities aren’t really keeping up with this rise of mental health issues, despite their need to focus on it. UBCO just had its “Thrive Week”, a week dedicated to drawing attention to, and improving student mental health. Yet, despite the research, UBCO has yet to implement a longer fall reading break. The mental health among students is deplorable, and although there are a host of causes (expectations, transition, SAD, etc.), universities need to pay more attention. This starts with a recognition that the fall semester is just as hard as the spring semester. A longer break will help students catch up, relax, and recuperate from a tough midterm season.