As students, we all know that the feeling of academic stress is inevitable. Even if you are a stellar student, it is extremely difficult to stay stress-free, especially as you progress through higher grade levels. Academic stress is defined as “the body’s response to academic-related demands that exceed adaptive capabilities of students” (Alsulami et al., 2018). Although not talked about or acknowledged often, about 10-30% of students are expected to experience academic stress in their academic careers. But, don’t take my word for it, let’s take a look at what experts have to say about the relationship between academic stress and mental health concerns.
It is reported that ongoing academic stress can lead to much more serious mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Researchers estimate that 35% of students beyond high school experience anxiety and 30% experience depression. Not only does academic stress cause mental health problems but impairing mental health can have social, academic, and physical health consequences. For example, a study was done in Finland of students aged 13-17 years in which they “self-reported depression severity was associated with concentration difficulties, and poorer social relationships, self-learning, poorer academic performance, and worse reading and writing outcomes” (Fröjd et al., 2008).
Not only does academic pressure affect student performance but also parental pressure for better academic performance. This seems to be something many students face with 66% of high school students in India reporting feeling pressure from their parents to improve their grades. Interestingly, how much pressure a student received from their parents varied depending on the occupations, education level, and status of the parents. Furthermore, even self-imposed pressure can be detrimental to one’s mental stability. This need to succeed is a great source of stress for many students, especially high school students.
Numbers aside, I completely understand that reading all these statistics can be very discouraging and bleak, but I have decided to share this information to raise awareness of the issues many of us students face. Pretending that academic stress is not a problem can be very dangerous and our struggles need to be recognized and talked about. I want this article to be your reminder to take extra good care of yourself today and to take breaks often. Your mental health is just as crucial to your wellbeing as your physical health so please do not overlook it.
And remember, if you are struggling, you aren’t alone, here are some online resources you can come to if things get especially hard:
- https://www.activeminds.org/ – This website has resources where you can learn how to distract yourself from current emotions, find examples of self-care, and learn more about mental health.
- https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/ – This website provides help and support for those suffering with eating disorders. It also can teach you about eating disorder prevention, signs, and recovery.
- https://www.mentalhealth.gov/ – This website goes over the basics of mental health and a variety of mental health issues. It also has specific resources for different groups of people (e.g for young people looking for help, parents and caregivers, etc.)
- https://jedfoundation.org/ – This website contains a mental health resource center for whether you need help, want help, or want to help a loved one.
If you want tips to help cope with academic stress, here are some online articles that may be helpful:
Article by Bella, F. (Grade 10); Feature image by Renoa, K. (Grade 11)
The views expressed in this article represent the personal views of the author and should not be taken to represent the views of Dragon’s Print and Cebu International School.
Alsulami, S., Al Omar, Z., Binnwejim, M., Alhamdan, F., Aldrees, A., Al-bawardi, A., Alsohim, M., & Alhabeeb, M. (2018). Perception of academic stress among Health Science Preparatory Program students in two Saudi universities. Advances in Medical Education and Practice, Volume 9(10.2147/AMEP.S143151), 159–164. https://doi.org/10.2147/amep.s143151
Anxiety & Depression Association of America. (n.d.). Online Resources | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA. Adaa.org. Retrieved March 1, 2022, from https://adaa.org/find-help/support/community-resources#Teens%20and%20College%20Students
Deb, S., Strodl, E., & Sun, J. (2015). Academic Stress, Parental Pressure, Anxiety and Mental Health among Indian High School Students. International Journal of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences. https://doi.org/10.5923/j.ijpbs.20150501.04
Pascoe, M. C., Hetrick, S. E., & Parker, A. G. (2019). The impact of stress on students in secondary school and higher education. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 25(1), 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1080/02673843.2019.1596823