NORTH CAROLINA — School districts in North Carolina are sounding the alarm on the mental health of their students and staff.

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools announced new initiatives to put the mental health and wellness of their community at the forefront following concerns from employees, students and their families.

What You Need To Know

  • The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City school district is giving students the week of Thanksgiving off.

  • Starting January 2022, CHCC schools will implement “Mindful Mondays” and “Wellness Wednesdays”

  • Wake, Johnston, Durham and Cumberland County Schools are designating Nov. 12 as a mental health day and giving all students off.

Madison Lin is the student body president at Chapel Hill High. Lin spoke at the district’s school board meeting to address the declining mental health of her classmates.

“Part of my job is to advocate on behalf of students, also making sure we have a good morale at the school, keeping things upbeat and a place that kids love to come to,” Lin said.

Lin has been a part of student government at Chapel Hill High since her freshmen year.

“I knew our mental health was not in a great place, and I knew I was in a position to help fix it,” Lin said.

Superintendent Nyah Hamlett released a number of initiatives the district is taking to support students and staff in their schools.

Students will have the entire week of Thanksgiving off to serve as wellness days. Teachers will also have off, with an optional teacher workday on Monday, Nov. 22.

Staff will be allowed to telework under certain circumstances.

In addition, the board approved a two-year plan for retention bonuses for every staff member employed as of Oct. 31, 2021 who has not already received a recruitment bonus. The first bonus will be $1,000, and a minimum of $500 bonuses for those who continue their employment through Oct. 31, 2022.

Following the Thanksgiving break, high school seniors will be allowed to leave campus for lunch. The district is also working to implement more opportunities for students to socialize during their lunch periods.

Beginning January 2022, schools will launch "Mindful Mondays" and "Wellness Wednesdays," where students will still be required to come to school but will participate in wellness activities to reduce stress and anxiety.

“I definitely think it’s a step in the right direction, it’s good to really hear from the district that they are also putting our mental health first and they are dedicating specific days for us to think about our mental health,” Lin said.

This year, Lin and her classmates brought a nationwide organization "Bring Change To Mind" to Chapel Hill High School.

The program works to destigmatize mental health in high schools and works to encourage conversation about mental health and mental illness.

“I definitely have had my fair share of mental health struggles. I also, upon talking to my peers - they go through the same things as well. A lot of them have diagnosed mental health disorders and I want to make sure they’re feeling heard,” Lin said.

Lin says one of her goals as student body president is to make sure school is a place where all her classmates can enjoy coming to.

“Pretty much my whole life I’ve tried to be someone that people could come to and talk about any problems or stressors, because I want my fellow peers to know I’m someone that they can come to, and encourage them,” Lin said.

Wake, Durham, Johnston and Cumberland County Schools will designate Nov. 12 as a mental health day, giving all students the day off.