Too much pressure placed on students to succeed

BY JESSIE CHAIET

PRINT NEWS EDITOR

One question on one quiz for one grade in one class.  Does this one question have the power to affect the rest of their lives?

In school, many students face this one perilous question.  Students believe that getting that one question wrong could lead to an undesired grade in a class.  From there, it is a continuous cycle, a slippery slope ending with a rejection from their dream college.  These unrealistic standards and pressures cause students to suffer from severe psychological problems, such as anxiety and depression.

The New York Times recently published an article titled “Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering from Severe Anxiety?”  The article discusses the stories of several teenagers who experienced so much anxiety that they had to be sent to a treatment facility in New Hampshire, called Mountain Valley.

One of the teenagers the article focuses on is Jake, now a college freshman at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (UNC).  As a high schooler, Jake had a fear of failure and put excessive pressure on himself to get into UNC; he put so much pressure that one day he broke down and refused to go to school.  Eventually, Jake was sent to Mountain Valley.

This instance shows the detrimental effects that stress from schoolwork can have on mental health.  Although this institution sounds like an extreme step, it was necessary for the students to help reduce their stress and anxiety.  Not every student who suffers from the pressures of school needs to go to an institution like this.  However, students and schools should both work to reduce the detrimental effects of stress.

Because of school and expectations for the future, students continue to put more and more pressure on themselves to succeed.  Here at the Bay, students stack their schedules with numerous Advanced Placement (AP) and Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) classes.  Not only do they take challenging, college level courses, but they also dedicate themselves to numerous clubs and honor societies, often pursuing leadership positions.

A survey by the American Psychological Association found that 45 percent of teenagers are stressed by school pressures.  In many cases, these pressures have lead to severe psychological and health problems, ranging from fatigue and weight gain to anxiety and depression.

Along with these psychological and health problems, pressures from school have lead to an increased mortality rate among teenagers.  According to childtrends.org, in 2015, 18 percent of high school students reported that they had seriously thought about committing suicide.  Suicide is the second leading cause of death among teenagers ages 15-19.

Oftentimes, students find themselves locked up in their rooms after school, finishing homework and studying.  Therefore, they miss out on a valuable, stress-relieving activity: exercise.  According to the American Psychological Organization, 1 in 5 teens report exercising less than once a week or not at all.

At the Bay, students are lucky to have caring guidance counselors and clubs, such as Helping Overcome Problems Effectively (HOPE), that work to promote mental health.  However, many schools across the country lack these resources and are unable to help students suffering from psychological problems.  The Children’s Defense Fund’s 2014 State of America’s Children report cites that 45 percent of children living in poverty who needed mental health care did not receive proper treatment.

As a solution to the implications of extreme stress and pressure, schools should offer programs for suffering students.  Schools should encourage teenagers to schedule regular visits with their guidance counselor or school psychologist.  Students themselves should consider modifying their course load and making sure they have time their schedules for exercise.  Altogether, students can work on encouraging each other and helping each other succeed instead of fighting for the number one spot in their class ranking.

The one real question now is: what are schools doing to help alleviate stress and reduce pressure on students?

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