Going Under: The Real Stress

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Photo Credit: Kiyah Moore

The stress of a modern high school is taking a toll on our Nation’s youth.

Kiyah Moore, Editor LC Panther Press

Hop onto your Facebook, Tumblr, or Twitter feed and you will often be greeted with things like this:

 

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(Image via BFFORBEL.com. Artist: Moga)

 

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(weheartit.com)

 

These innocent posts conveying the stress of students and teenagers can more than often times be easily dismissed with the swipe of your thumb. However, these posts may in fact be the voice of a burnt out generation.

 

With new state standardized tests, increased college requirements, and heightened expectations from our students, the impact is becoming more and evident in the mental health of our students. Walk into any high school in Tennessee–it’s not like high school in the 70’s or even  90’s.To those in high school, count the times you’ve heard someone say they’re stressed out about school.

 

Senior year has been the cap on the mountain of stress for me. Never before have I been this controlled by stress. Stress affects everything. I mean everything–weight, mood, focus, growth, etc. Stress becomes the deciding factor between whether I do something I enjoy crumple up in bed and go to sleep from sadness. Not to be entirely bleak, I do believe students should experience stress, but it should be productive stress.

 

This year, I have personally witnessed the strongest people I know, crumble into tears because of their classes, college applications, and worry of their future. What causes this? Has it always been this difficult?

 

The answer is no.

 

If you look back to the century before this one, school was entirely less stressful. Colleges were easier to get into. There wasn’t even a writing portion on the ACT until 2007. Rules have completely changed in schools as well–what one could get away with in 1970, one could get expelled for in 2015. Societal expectations have greatly changed as well. To go to your community college down the road or nearest one isn’t enough. The pressure to be perfect and do everything perfectly is incredibly heightened in this day in age.

 

But times have changed as well. Last century a lower percentage of high school students went on to college than there is now.

 

Despite the fact that some of the changes in education as of late are necessary, I feel that some are entirely inconsiderate and gratuitous. A student should never have more homework than they can handle in a single night–and I’m not meaning 1 or 2 hours of homework. I mean 4-6 hours of homework followed by hours of studying and applying to college. Some of standards we hold ourselves to are just too high.

 

How has the mental illness of teens been affected? According to the Nuffield Foundation, “The proportion of 15/16 year olds reporting that they frequently feel anxious or depressed has doubled in the last 30 years, from 1 in 30 to 2 in 30 for boys and 1 in 10 to 2 in ten for girls.” They also report that the increase lately is bigger than it was in 1999–where no increase in anxiety or depression in teens was recorded.

 

These statistics, that SHOULD be concerning, seem to be only greeted by more testing and higher standards. I’m not for sure if I understand. As someone who has been a student subject to all of this, it’s hard to find a balance or a point in some of it.

 

So what is the point to all of this pressure? To make us better citizens? To help us catch up with other countries? At the expense of what? At the expense of our mental health and well being. Well played.