By Jack Cahill ‘17
In a rigorous academic environment such as our own, it is crucial that students are conscious of their stresses and anxieties.
While mild amounts of stress can build incentive, excess school stress can induce anxieties and depression.
As opposed to treating stress as a natural byproduct of a rigorous school, students and faculty should work to address stress and school anxiety as a legitimate issue.
On the flipside, pre-existing anxieties and depression can lead to a sharp increase in school stress.
A survey from the American Psychological Association found that nearly half of all high school students deal with “high to severe levels of school related stress.” While this stress might be equated with a nail biting math assignment, the implications go much further.
One major implication is depression. While depression is often predisposed, school stress only amplifies depression.
Evidence lies in the fact that one in five students is clinically depressed, according to Mental Health America.
Furthermore, school related stress can indirectly lead students to consider drastic options, such as cheating.
A CNN survey found that three quarters of students engage in “serious cheating,” which is an alarming statistic.
Of course, this doesn’t give any of us a reason to point fingers at teachers, as they offer very helpful services to alleviate the stresses of their students.
“Students also have real lives, outside of school,” said Mr. Quentin Orem. “Some students have physical and mental health issues, and Brophy can be both tough and helpful in this regard. I would say teachers can either be flexible or rigid when it comes to student stress, and they are generally forgiving when real life happens.”
Mr. Austin Pidgeon noted that a great deal of student stress can be related to a heavy focus on grades and colleges.
“I think there is a high pressure to get into a competitive college, even amongst freshmen and sophomores,” Mr. Pidgeon said. “Students are focused on how their actions will affect their grades. They overlook the key concepts of what they are learning, and that alone is a major stressor.”
Students seem to agree with Mr. Pidgeon, saying that “grades and homework” are key facets in their anxiety.
“Honestly, I’m stressed largely by tests and worries that teachers will post stuff late on Canvas,” said Daniel Petersen ’17.
Long periods of studying, too, induces anxiety in many students.
“Tests and projects are my two biggest stress factors,” Thomas Rehling ‘17 said. “Generally, I’ll spend a week studying for an AP test.”
Of course, students can rely on more than just teachers for reducing their stress levels, and have their own methods, both effective and ineffective, to alleviate their school related anxieties.
“I just practice time management and spread out my workload,” Rehling said.
Some students, however, aren’t as successful in coping with large amounts of work.
“I really don’t cope with the stress, I honestly just let it eat me sometimes,” Petersen said.
While teachers can be conducive in alleviating student anxieties, part of the responsibility does lie on students and parents alike.
According to Maryland based psychologist Mary Alvord, a “balanced workload is crucial” to a peaceful teenage life.
“If a child is having trouble getting things done, parents can help plan the week, deciding what’s important and what’s optional,” Alvord said. “Just basic time management, that will help reduce the stress.”
Another way to reduce stress is to directly eliminate the stressors, such as dropping a strenuous course that does more harm than good, or leaving one of your three sports teams.
Excess schoolwork can both amplify and kick in issues such as depression and anxiety, and both students and teachers have multiple strategies to work through that.