Academic Stress in Students

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Cues to ensure and assure a stress-free academic environment for students.

 

School education is a very important part of an individual’s life and is also a turning point in their academic life. At this stage, the academic performance of a student plays a crucial role in deciding the next stage of their education, which in turn shapes their career. An excess of academic stress during this stage can result in adverse effects that are far-reaching and prolonged.

In today’s highly competitive world, students face various academic problems including exam stress, disinterest in attending classes and the inability to understand a subject. Academic stress involves mental distress regarding anticipated academic challenges or failure or even the fear of the possibility of academic failure. Academic stressors show themselves in many aspects of the students’ environment: at school, home, in their peer relations and even in their neighbourhood.

Excessive levels of academic stress can result in an increased prevalence of psychological and physical problems like depression, anxiety, nervousness and stress-related disorders, which in turn can affect their academic results. Anxiety as a disorder is seen in about 8% of adolescents and children worldwide. Anxiety and stress have a substantial negative effect on their social, emotional and academic success. Depression is becoming the most common mental health problem college students suffer these days. It is also a reflection of an individual’s academic frustration, academic conflict, academic anxiety and academic pressure. The four components of academic stress usually identifiable in a student are academic frustration, academic conflicts, academic anxieties and academic pressures.

According to most high school students, their greatest academic stressors include tests, grades, homework, academic and achievement expectations and parental pressure. School-related stresses include inadequate instructional methods, teacher-student relationships, heavy academic workload, poor physical classroom environments, inability to balance one’s leisure time with school, and disorganization surrounding academic assignments and schedules. Additional sources consist of a struggle to meet academic standards, worries about time management and concerns over grades and scores. Students are thus, seen to be affected by the negative causes of academic stress.

The mental health of students, especially in terms of academic stress and its impact, has become a serious issue among school and policymakers because of the increasing incidence of suicides among students across the globe. The Lancet Report states that India has the world’s highest suicide rates among the youth. Parental pressure for better academic performance is found to be mostly responsible for academic stress. Due to the constant pushing of the student by the parents in order to perform better in both academics and extra-curricular activities, some children develop deep-rooted nervous disorders during their childhood.

Academic and exam stress is found to be positively correlated with parental pressure and psychiatric problems. It is important to remember that the mental constitution or coping capacities vary from one child to another. Therefore, children with poor coping capacities become more prone to anxiety, depression and fear of academic failure and this shows us that one should not compare one student with another.

Looking at these high levels of academic stress in students which can also lead to psychological disorders, there is an urgent need to develop suitable interventions and solutions to reduce this level of stress and psychiatric morbidity.

Here are some ways for students to manage and overcome academic stress:

1. Always have something to look forward to every day and it doesn’t always have to be something big. This helps to have a reason to anticipate the next day and thus cope with academic stress better.

2. Studies have shown that a regular exercise routine often decreases symptoms of depression and stress. So exercise and sports, YES.

3. Create a proper schedule that will help you manage your academics and other activities in a more efficient manner.

4. Understand your academic capabilities, what is expected of you and try not to have unreasonable expectations.

5. Surround yourself with positive people, ALWAYS.

 

Feature Image Credit: Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

 

Anoushka Thakkar is a Research Associate (Mental Health) at One Future Collective.

 

Resources:

Beilock, Sian. “Back to School: Dealing with Academic Stress.” Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association, Sept. 2011, www.apa.org/science/about/psa/2011/09/academic-stress.aspx.

Bedewy, Dalia, and Adel Gabriel. “Examining Perceptions of Academic Stress and Its Sources among University Students: The Perception of Academic Stress Scale.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, July 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5193280/.

synergies.lib.uoguelph.ca/index.php/ajote/article/view/2762/3253.

Sorbara, Cathy. “How PhDs Can Leave Academic Stress Behind Forever And Transition Into Industry.” Cheeky Scientist®, 29 Mar. 2017, cheekyscientist.com/9-ways-to-manage-and-overcome-academic-stress/.

 

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The Beginning, Middle and End: A Tryst with Depression

HOW TECHNOLOGY MAKES US ANXIOUS

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Does the all-caps title make you anxious? It should. This article should make you anxious enough to pay more attention to the blurring of the real and virtual.

Technology is evolving at a rampant rate and it is hard to keep up with. This fast-paced change is also responsible for creating an anxiety-ridden society. Studies, magazines, articles and other people are telling us that technology is making us more anxious. But to what extent is this true? Who is to blame for the increase in the worsening psychological conditions in the individuals in today’s generation? The reason for this is the evolutionary shift to a much faster revolutionary change.

A new study of 1.1 million students ranging from 8th grade to 12th graders found that high school students who spent more time on screens and gadgets and less time engaging in face to face socialising, exercise or other non-screen activities were physiologically at a disadvantage and worse off than their peers. The study also found out that when children reported a shift to more screen-based activities, a decline in happiness followed, which implies a cause-and-effect relationship. The youth today is experiencing higher levels of stress, anxiety, depression and related conditions than they were a generation ago.

How does technology make us anxious?

Technology leaves us vulnerable: uncertainty is the root of anxiety. In some ways, technology takes away some uncertainty. Smartphones allow us to control and manipulate the world around us to a great, albeit limited extent, as a result of which we are much less prepared to navigating the real world, not manipulated by the push of a button. Because technology limits our experiences with handling uncertainty, we are less prepared to deal with ambiguity when it arises. The combination of a lack of experience dealing with small uncertainties with an expansion of big uncertainties as we grow, is what makes us feel anxious.

Technology allows us to avoid people and negative emotions and feelings: a downfall of technology is that it limits our interaction with people outside social media platforms. When we avoid people, our confidence is affected and we are unsure of how to handle things and we tend to think of ourselves as awkward in conversations. What we are actually avoiding are the uncomfortable emotions like awkwardness, anxiety and boredom which arise quite naturally when interacting with others.

On-screen communication is different as compared to face-to-face communication: The former allows us the comfort of reacting to things on our own timetable. And that allows us the time to craft a reaction. When we’re accustomed to taking our time to think of exactly what we want to say, we find it harder to talk to someone face-to-face and in the moment. When there’s less real-time experience to draw on, we remain shaky and uncertain, which in turn makes us anxious.

Public adoration or public shaming happens in front of everyone. And for teens and young adults still figuring out their identity and moral compass, managing social media can feel like a social crisis. Social anxiety is the fear of being revealed and judged as deficient in some way. Some people pretend to be something they are not, on social media. This leads to an increase in the gap between what we project and who we actually are, thereby increasing our anxiety about being revealed.

The solution to this is simple. Make time for face-to-face conversation. We have to teach ourselves and find a way to be more emotionally, cognitively, and behaviorally open and aware, we have to learn how to take the perspective of others, how to feel a little of what others feel, and how to stick with those feelings even when it gets rough.

We need to create a more accepting, mindful, values-based, caring, compassionate world, and we have to start right here, right now in our families, schools, communities, culture, nation, and world.

 

Feature Image Credit: Hugh Han on Unsplash

 

Anoushka Thakkar is a Research Associate (Mental Health) at One Future Collective.

 

References:

Walsh, Kristen. “How Technology Is Causing Anxiety.” PreparedU View | Bentley University, 17 Dec. 2015, www.bentley.edu/prepared/how-technology-causing-anxiety.

“The Unexpected Way That New Technology Makes Us Unhappy.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/get-out-your-mind/201409/the-unexpected-way-new-technology-makes-us-unhappy.

“How Technology Makes Us Anxious.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/how-be-yourself/201803/how-technology-makes-us-anxious.

 

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The Beginning, Middle and End: A Tryst with Depression

The Need for School Mental Health

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Nurturing and sustaining a healthy future.

The youth of today spend more time in schools than they do anywhere else except their homes. This makes the school one of the best places for both educators and students to become increasingly aware of mental health problems and illnesses. The mission of school mental health programmes is to promote healthy social, emotional and behavioural development of the students. Health concerns must be addressed in schools itself if the students are to function satisfactorily and if they are to succeed at school.

It is during childhood and adolescence that students have a large concentration of mental health issues. Giving children access to mental health resources early on in their phase of education can play a key role in mitigating negative consequences later in life. Mental health problems in students might lead to negative outcomes. Some of these include school dropouts, difficulty in learning, behavioural difficulties, school failures and difficulties in performance.

A variety of psychosocial and health problems affect learning and a child’s performance in profound ways. Because of this, school policymakers are trying to assist teachers in dealing with such problems. Prominent examples of this are seen in the counselling, psychological and social service programs that schools provide. These programmes have been developed for purposes of early intervention, crisis intervention and prevention, treatment and also to promote positive social and emotional development in a student.

School mental health programmes are very effective because interventions are sensitive to students’ and their family culture, there is an easy access to mental health services in communities where services are scarce, it removes the stigma from mental health services, having these programmes on-site allows teachers to spend more time teaching with fewer distractions from class work.

There is a need for policies and plans that recognise the significance of the integration of mental health into educational institutions, development and implementation of mental health curriculums and the training of teachers. It is important to have mental health programmes in school because it keeps children from affecting their emotional, academic or physical development. It can prevent long-term problems and also improves academic performance and personal relationships with family and friends.

Enhancing mental health in schools in comprehensive ways is not easy. For this to successfully happen, schools should address the barriers that prevail in learning and thus promote healthy development. Once this is done, it is more potential that mental health in schools will be understood as essential to addressing barriers in learning and not as an agenda separate from a school’s instructional mission.

Being a teacher is not easy, especially in today’s rapidly changing world. Mental disorders in young people are now being increasingly recognised and educators are being asked to address those needs in the classroom and beyond. Understanding what these issues are and the many different avenues available to effectively deal with them is an important challenge in today’s educational environment.

In sum, advancing mental health in schools is about much more than expanding services and creating full-service schools. It is about establishing comprehensive and multifaceted approaches which help ensure that schools are caring and supportive places that maximise learning. It is about the fostering and strengthening of the well-being of students, families, schools, and neighbourhoods.

 

Feature Image Credit: Providence Doucet on Unsplash

 

Anoushka Thakkar is a Research Associate (Mental Health) at One Future Collective.

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Queer Infocus | July 2020

The Beginning, Middle and End: A Tryst with Depression