The term stress in not uncommon amongst high school students. Whether it be from an overwhelming load of AP classes, extracurricular activities, or the looming pressure of college and post-graduation plans, high schoolers around the world are constantly forced to feel the weight of their commitments. The detrimental effects of stress have plagued teens for decades, and in recent years have too often been accepted as a given in the increasingly chaotic lifestyle of the modern world.
Stress can stem from a multitude of different aspects of a student’s life. Unsurprisingly, a major and consistent cause of stress is academic competition, schoolwork, and grades. On Nov. 13, 2015, 63 students in Meredith Moseley’s AP English Language and Composition class completed a poll about their concerns and emotional states. The results confirmed that academics play a major role in student anxiety: 92 percent of the students were stressed about schoolwork, and 83 percent were stressed about their grades.
While it is certainly true that some amount of anxiety is unavoidable and probably effective in motivating students to put forth their best academic effort, 70 percent of Moseley’s students claimed to suffer from severe levels of stress in their everyday lives.This high number supports a common fear that this generation is combatting an unprecedented level of stress.
With the increasing demands and expectations of our society, are we slowly losing sight of the quality of life within our youth, and consequently, the future?
“I get a lot of pressure from my family, and from my peers to do well in school, but I don’t actually care where I go or what I do. I just want a chill life,” Said Jason Cheng, junior.
In addition to the stress high schoolers feel from schoolwork, added complications arise with the bustle of sports, a social life, family matters, and other personal struggles. While attempting to juggle all of these aspects of a busy teenage life, students often put their health as the last priority. Sleep deprivation becomes a norm, in fact, 89 percent of Moseley’s students reported lack of sleep as one of the primary causes of stress, with common effects of anxiety and depression emerging more frequently.
“I feel better knowing that I took all night to study instead of wasting my time sleeping,” said Kristie Nguyen-Khoa, junior.
In many cases, students do not have access to the support they need to combat stress-provoked mental illnesses, and they keep their troubles bottled up inside their minds. Without a relief outlet such as a counselor, parent, or trusted friend, kids can become so consumed with stress that it affects all aspects of their life.
“I know the counselors at Leigh are available. I’ve talked to them a few times, and they’ve given me options to make my school life easier,” said Amy Dejung, junior.
In extreme cases, the buildup of stress over an extended period of time can result in suicide, eating disorders, drug abuse, or self-harm. In fact, according to HealthyPlace.com, “90 percent of people who engage in self harm begin during their teen or pre-adolescent years.”
High schoolers often become worn out by the goal to appear “well-rounded” on a college application, rather than focusing on their own well-being. The experiences and personal struggles of a teenage student extend beyond high school, interfering with their future aspirations, health, and greater adulthood.