Keeping your head above water

The negative mental impact of stress on students


1 in 2 high school students report a high level of stress (Photo by Sydney Miller).

Sydney Miller, Reporter

A student shuffles by Room 2610, head down as the voices of fellow Science Olympiad students filters through the air. Despite the allure of her teammates’ discussion, she feels sick to her stomach and leaves without entering. The stress of homework, tests, grades, college, and clubs is overwhelming her.

The amount of pressure put on students isn’t helping them do better, it is making them resent the school system and what they are learning; if students must go somewhere for seven hours a day, five days a week, they should enjoy what we are doing and every second should be spent preparing for the future. 

Until children are eighteen years old, they are required by law to come to school on a daily basis. For the amount of time kids give to their education, it doesn’t make much sense for adults to add on so much unnecessary pressure and work.  Students don’t get a break and some say they feel almost trapped in the constant expectation set for them to get good grades, stay healthy, do extracurricular activities and manage a well-balanced social life. It is way too much for any one person to handle, let alone a developing young adult.  

 Angelina Nguyen, a sophomore at Langley High School said, “my parents put a lot of pressure on me and have set the expectation that I will have a bright future,” she also says, “ I have my older siblings to live up to.”  Teachers should consider that everyone has other things going on outside of school and school is not the only thing on kids minds, especially with social media.  Similar to how Nguyen said that she is constantly being compared to her older siblings,  

Langley High Schools Psychologist, Anna Davis said, “social media and technology have allowed stress to increase because we are constantly comparing ourselves, even as adults,” social media is so new and it is already having an effect on the mentality of adults, just think about what that means for kids who were born into this world of technology, and most since birth have been completely surrounded by the beeps and whistles of electronics, it’s all they know.  It’s easy for some adults to say, well why not just delete social media if it’s causing so many issues?  The reason why kids are so connected to social media is because of FOMO, or the fear of missing out, the fear that teenagers have that they won’t know everything all the time is, in my opinion, one of the biggest mental issues regarding millennials; everything happening online at 100 miles per hour is another element feeding into student stress. 

Levels of stress can also depend on where you live, “A lot of pressure is put on kids at Langley to be the best…not just generally successful, but to be at the top,” Davis said.  With the parents of the kids that go to Langley being Doctors, Lawyers, CEO’s, and other high end jobs, parents tend to want their kids to be like them which adds pressure to get good grades so they can go to a good college and make the money they need to survive and live a good life.  The added stress also causes students to be more competitive taking a toll on relationships with the people around them. 

School administrators and teachers rarely get to hear their students perspective on their workload or how they think their teachers could improve their classroom environment and make learning more enjoyable.

“Teachers could decrease stress by reducing the amount of homework they provide,” freshman Sydney Detwiler said.

This proved to be a common sentiment among overworked students; however, fellow freshman Angelina Nguyen offered an alternative concept.

“Teachers should collaborate to see what other assignments we have and be more flexible with deadlines,” Nguyen said.

Obviously there needs to be some structure to a learning environment; but what students are wondering is why teachers can’t teach them everything they need to know in the seven hours they have them a day, why do they need to pour more work on them after coming back from an exhausting day of cramming things into their brains? It’s too much at once.   

Langley High School’s psychologist, Anna Davis, said,“By the time students get into high school, about 1 in 2 report they are feeling a high level of stress.”

“Some level of stress is a good thing, it motivates us to overcome obstacles…it becomes an area of difficulty when it gets so high that we are constantly overwhelmed…it causes our brains to almost blank out,” Davis said. 

If a student is severely stressed, they could study for hours upon hours, but when they get to the test they could still fail because their stress has caused them to blank, meaning that they aren’t showing their full potential. That is on the school and everyone that expects perfection from the students. 

It could be agreed that students should strive to be the best they can be, but if they are constantly being told that they must be the best, or that they must be perfect, they will never want to be better because kids don’t typically want to do what is being forced down their throats; especially something compulsory and as significant as education.