"UNDER PRESSURE" - Justin Balasia's Opinion on The Cause & Effects of Social & Academic Pressure

Updated: May 1, 2018

Depression and anxiety have become more common in today’s society; if unchecked these can lead to serious health issues and possibly death, most commonly by suicide. Anxiety is defined as feelings of unease or nervousness, and worry; while depression can be described as a feeling of crippling sadness or a state of inactiveness. In recent years, anxiety and depression in students have been on the rise. With schoolwork increasing, or becoming more overwhelming, and an ever changing social environmental standards, it can be argued that school is the root of these issues. This can be proven because there are many instances in which students have gotten anxious or depressed because of school, in some cases being so severe that these problems may persist even after high school or college. In addition to this many disorders caused by depression and anxiety are either left unnoticed or untreated which may in turn cause harm to those affected. Though school is mostly a safe place of learning, students are beginning to develop mental health disorders and are not given proper aid; an abundance of homework being given out daily, standardized and regular testing becoming more of an obligation than the learning experience, and social crises, for example bullying, taking a toll on a teen’s mental health, resulting in school as the root of mental disorders in students.

Teachers give out homework in order for students to learn outside of school, however this can prove to be overwhelming at times. Students often times get more homework than is necessary. More work does not always mean more learning, rather it causes more stress in some cases. “In 2013, research conducted at Stanford University found that students in high-achieving communities who spend too much time on homework experience more stress, physical health problems, a lack of balance in their lives, and alienation from society” . Furthermore, large amounts of homework can prove to restrict students from living their fullest lives. Although homework can aid in the learning process it also takes away from the students' ability to discover themselves, often leading to feeling isolated or trapped. “School makes it very hard to spend any time with family because we either have presentations or essays to write. While these students are at school and are away from their family for too long they start to show signs of depression,” says Lauren in a piece, “Students Are given Too Much Homework Leading to Negative Effects, ” Letters to the next President. As important homework is to school, a student’s mental state should not have to undergo such trauma to complete it.

Tests or quizzes are another staple in schools, used to assess how much a student has learned and what areas need improvement. While tests are useful in many cases, they also cause anxiety in students. The addition of many standardized tests on top of the regular tests, students have to take give off a feeling of constant anxiety. “ The increased amount of testing teenagers face today, including the SAT, SAT Subject tests, PSAT, ACT, IB, and AP exams, additionally contribute to stress and anxiety, ” states Lucy Dwyer in an article titled, “When Anxiety Hits at School.” It can be argued that test preparation is the solution to this, however, test preparation can only go so far. “Test anxiety” is the feeling of anxiety before taking a test or quiz, this feeling can oftentimes be repetitive. “After experiencing anxiety during one exam, students may become so afraid about it happening again that they actually become even more anxious or stressed during the next exam. After experiencing test anxiety numerous times, students may begin to feel helpless to change their situation, ” writes author Kendra Cherry, from a Very Well Mind. As previously stated, test anxiety can be minimized with practices like more sleep or erasing bad thoughts. However, the negative effects of overwhelming homework outweigh these solutions rendering them useless.

Reading an article “5 Stress Factors for High-Schoolers With Learning and Attention Issues, ” by The Understood Team, I agreed that school has become a place students have gotten to know well, though this doesn’t mean that they do not feel pressured by it. Two major pressures almost every student experiences are the fear of academic failure and social pressures. According to Understood, students who have struggled in previous years can feel the academic demand rise as they progress. Another problem that students face in school are social pressures or standards. Students may come across these in the form of bullies, the need of friends, or feelings of isolation. These experiences can cause social anxiety at times and can worsen overtime if left unnoticed and can even halt in the learning process for some students. “High school is filled with peer and social pressure. No matter what school the student goes to, there is always a group of students who pressure them into something. According to Kassandra Granata, from Education World, a new study finds that this type of social pressure tends to affect students who need to seek aid for academic help. School should not be a place where students are scared of failure or growing smarter, it should be a place for them to be confident in their abilities and build upon it.

Most parents overlook the seriousness of their students stress, in turn, causing the student to be afraid to talk about their problems. Most signs of stress and depression are often overlooked or left unnoticed by parents in some cases. However, students are getting more and more stressed in recent years. According to Margaret Shapiro of The Washington Post, many American teens describe experiencing stress at unhealthy levels, appear indecisive in their stress management methods and have symptoms of stress that mirror adults’. This stress can usually affect a student’s ability to learn. “Teens report that stress is having an impact on their performance at home, work and school. Their self-reported stress levels were higher than that reported by adults.” It is understood that stress is a common part of life, however, the kinds of stress students deal with can be easily avoided or prevented.

Adults may argue that the pressures of their everyday lives are far more serious than those experienced by students. However, in today’s society students have just as much stress or sometimes more than adults. This point is made by Sophie Bethune. She believes that the amount of stress school causes can top the stress that adults feel. According to the American Psychological Association teens disclosed that their stress levels during the school year far exceeded what they believe to be healthy (five point eight vs. three point nine on a ten-point scale) and topped adults' average reported stress levels (five point eight for teens vs. five point one for adults). Having more stress than adults is a detriment to the students well being, causing problems later on in students' lives. In an article by Carolyn Gregoire, Huffington Post “Even before the pressures of work and adulthood set in, for most young Americans, stress has already become a fact of daily life. And this sets the stage early for unhealthy behaviors and lifestyle choices that may increase the risk of developing stress-related health problems down the road.” While adults do have it tough, today’s students may have it even worse given the state of their stress levels before entering adulthood.

School has and will always be a place of learning, however, that does not mean that it carries no flaws. As previously stated, school is at the root of mental disorders in students. Numerous aspects of school life cause unnecessary stress for students, thus leading to some developing mental disorders. Overwhelming amounts of homework and classwork have proven to be too much for students. By having too much work, students are too stressed out to complete their homework that they don’t actually learn from it. Students also develop feelings of anxiety when taking tests, also known as “test anxiety”. This form of stress can debilitate students from performing well because of the fear of having “test anxiety” again. Additionally standardized testing heavily contributes to this problem. Social anxiety in the form of social standards adds on to stress students feel within school. A combination of high expectations, and social standards make for students holding back on their education, and in some cases causing students to be afraid of asking for assistance. Oftentimes, signs of stress and anxiety in students are overlooked. This causes students to begin to feel helpless in their situation, and can lead to being discouraged from asking for help. All of these forms of stress and anxiety within school are all factors in depression in students. The feeling of becoming overwhelmed can sometimes lead students into a cycle that they are unable to recover from. These mental disorders have shown to be far worse than those faced by adults. Students should not be afraid to learn, or be exposed to large amounts of stress before they become adults. School should be a safe haven for students, not a stress inducing facility.

Read for your self the opinions of others on this "PRESSING" issue.

Levy, Sandra. “Is too much homework bad for kids health?”. Healthline. 11 April 2017


H, Lauren. “Students Are given Too Much Homework Leading to Negative Effects.” Letters to the next President, 31 Oct. 2016


Dwyer, Lucy. “When Anxiety Hits at School.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 3 Oct. 2014


Cherry, Kendra. “Find out What Causes Test Anxiety and Academic Stress.” Verywell Mind


Team, The Understood. “5 Stress Factors for High-Schoolers With Learning and Attention Issues.”


Granata, Kassandra. “Social Pressure Affects Student' Academics.” Education World,


Shapiro, Margaret. “Stressed-out Teens, with School a Main Cause.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 17 Feb. 2014


Bethune, Sophie. “Teen Stress Rivals That of Adults.” Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association, Apr. 2014, www.apa.org/monitor/2014/04/teen-stress.aspx.


Gregoire, Carolyn. “American Teens Are Even More Stressed Than Adults.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 11 Feb. 2014


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