In the UK, schools are officially starting within the next two weeks. Time to get ready for the new academic year!
The past year, for me, has been the most mentally draining and challenging; at times I wanted to give up and just let the piles of unfinished work consume me, but somehow I have made it through to this point in time.
In September, when the school term resumes, I will be completing year 13, my final year of compulsory education (equivalent to senior year in high school) and right now, I am completely dreading it.
After six weeks of relaxation and not having to worry (too much) about school work, it’s hard to say that I am completely looking forward to go back to school.
As someone who used to suffer from mental illnesses, I recognized that quite a lot of my symptoms heightened considerably when I would return to a new school year.
The way school is structured makes you dive right into school work instead of settling into it. Especially after long holidays such as summer, such a change in stress level caused my mental health to suffer considerably.
Thinking this was a mental state I was experiencing alone, I, along with nine other students, consulted senior members of staff to see if we could conduct a survey into mental health at our school and how educational pressures the school sets affects existing issues.
We asked a range of questions including how effective the school is with dealing with issues and how comfortable students are with going to members of staff and sent it out to 16 and 17-year-olds in our year group.
The results we received were both worryingly and surprising:
- 75% of students rated the stressfulness of school at 7 or above out of ten.
- 67.6% of students stated that they always or often feel the stressfulness of school at home.
- Of those who struggled with mental illnesses, 75.8% believed the school had at least some negative effect on it with 28.6% stating that school had a great or complete negative effect.
- The one statistic we received that was startling was the fact that of those with mental illnesses 65% received no help or support from members of staff and if they did receive help, it was only helpful 4.2% of the time.
Our survey remained live for roughly 12 hours until we were told to take it down so they could review but we were not given a time scale to when this would be done.
Furthermore, we then received an email from the head teacher who proceeded to tell us that the survey put the school in a bad light and did not include other things which affect mental health including social media.
Now, this issue is not one that is new. Schools are constantly coming under fire for not having effective ways for dealing with mental health yet there does not seem to be anything being done without it.
The attitudes portrayed for the school almost seem to be complacent as of the schools believe that if they ignore the issue then it will disappear.
It’s saddening to think that a plethora of teenagers who express similar frustrations highlighted in our survey are going without support.
School counsellors are often times seen as an afterthought rather than a necessity and even if they are present, often times appointments need to be booked as they will not be in the school at all times.
Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that it is not 100% the school’s responsibility to but we can all agree that schools worldwide need to try to introduce more effective counselling and provide better help.
The most frustrating thing is that if these were physical problems, the school would have to deal with them more efficiently, but of course, because they cannot be seen, it seems as though they have little to no responsibility.
So here’s message to all schools: you do have a duty of care when it comes to students and with the rise of mental problems among students which some of them are attributed to studies, it’s time to reform mental health facilities you provide.