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Colt Chronicle

The Student News Site of Kinnelon High School

Colt Chronicle

The Student News Site of Kinnelon High School

Colt Chronicle

The Academic Pressures Of School Are Worsening Teenagers’ Mental Health

How schools are putting too much pressure on students and heightening the mental health crisis.
KHS Freshman Sophia Covello does schoolwork in Spanish class.

Adviser’s Note: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this opinion article belong solely to the author and do not reflect the view of The Colt Chronicle Staff, Kinnelon High School, or its students and staff members.

Teen mental health is in decline, and one of the main reasons is the pressure of doing well in school. 

School is very present in a teenager’s life, and can be extremely stressful, which can lead to things like anxiety. They are constantly being pressured to do their very best, and their schoolwork piles high as they get older. A study done by Education Week said that from kindergarten to fifth grade, a student did about under three hours a week. By ninth grade, it went up to 3.5.

Since school is such a constant thing, the stress that it comes with follows them day-to-day, not only does this affect a student’s mental health, but also their physical well-being. 

Countless times before tests, students will stay up all night, studying until four in the morning, to come in the next day clutching a cup of coffee with dark circles under their eyes. More often than not, the cycle continues. This brings teenagers to sleep much less, and can grow caffeine addictions at young ages. According to Medical News Today, 83.2% of teenagers consume caffeinated beverages on a day-to-day basis, and it can lead to more sleep deprivation. Why do students do this to themselves? Because of the academic pressures they face. 

Some students have also come to the conclusion that their grades surmount to their self-worth. This comes from the negative reactions from their teachers and sometimes parents, when they get bad grades. According to SLATE, a study showed that 80% of students surveyed based their self-worth off of academic performance.

Some parents punish their children severely when they get bad grades, which leads to even more pressure to do good in school. I’ve seen it before, where students push themselves to the point of exhaustion to get a good grade, saying that if they don’t they’ll be grounded. And it is these students who struggle the most with mental health. In a study by Pew Research Center, many parents (56%)  believe that they are putting too little pressure on their kids. This is very problematic in that kids are already stressed out and don’t need an extra push from their parents.

The students who don’t do well in school have it bad- but those who excel in their classes face problems of their own. For students who do well in their classes, some feel a constant pressure to continue doing good. They must be the best at all of their classes, even if they are mentally strained and at their full capacity. 

According to an article by Inside Higher Ed, a survey showed that 88% of undergrad students thought that there was too much academic pressure at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. And although it has been shown time and time again that students are being poorly affected by the growing pressure of school, what are schools doing to help?

Personally, I haven’t been in a class that had relaxed grading since elementary school. Each grade weighed in heavily, and it was always stressful and scary to open up the gradebook to see what I had gotten. 

Some schools are trying to help their students by providing mental health screenings and talking about how to better take care of yourself. According to an article by the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 34% of schools are providing outreach services, which includes mental health screenings.

Instead of learning about quadratics and how ionic bonds work, we should be teaching students how to regulate their emotions, or how to communicate with people and talk about their mental state without having to feel weak. There are a few schools who do this, such as University of Virginia and University of Iowa. Not to mention, most colleges now provide counseling for students.

There is such a negative stigma around asking for help, especially for guys, that some might not want to reach out and get the help they need. 

We should focus more of our time and attention on getting teens the help they need and lowering the academic pressures of school.

Here’s a podcast that goes into depth on the problems that students face with their mental health:

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