The average High School teenager today has the same level of anxiety and stress as a 1950’s Psychiatric patient. Which, oddly enough, makes sense considering how many commitments, homework and exams teens now face; whether it’s upcoming SATs, GCSEs or A-Level exams, the amount of pressure placed on teenagers in school to do well is so exponential that it’s not only played a role in the depression rates increasing by 37% among teens in the last decade, but, unfortunately, it’s also played a role in the peaking of the youth suicide rate, as (in 2015) studies showed that, in the US alone, 5 girls per 100,000 and 14 boys per 100,000 committed suicide annually. Even with those rates increasing at a scary rate, schools seldom do anything to help or aid students to deal with mental health problems.
Even though the teenage stress level is now higher than the adult one and school is seen as the biggest stressor among teens, the education system doesn’t seem to care about the mental health issues modern teenagers face, considering, in the UK, the examination system is only becoming harder and more complicated, as the new GCSE exam curriculum is the hardest it’s been since the 1980s, due to the expanded curriculum they must learn and the removal of coursework meaning your final grade relies solely on examinations alone. As a result of this, it seems abundantly clear the education system doesn’t care about the increasing stress levels, depression rates and suicide rates among teens; all they care about is syphoning out the top students, even if those top students suffered through multiple anxiety attacks and mental breakdowns just to reach that elusive A grade.
With increased pressure from parents, schools and Universities for us teens to do well, it seems impossible to be anything but waterlogged with stress, however, it’s vital that we teens realise that no A grade is worth jeopardising our mental health over and that there are ways to temporarily destress ourselves; here’s a few:
- Eat properly every day and don’t revise extensive hours without food.
- Sleep regularly for at least 8 hours and never stay up to cram the day before an exam.
- Cut Caffeine out of your diet, as it increases stressful feelings.
- Find your own personal way or activity which you can turn to to help you “escape” for a while, it could be: writing, hiking, playing video games, watching your favourite tv show etc, ensure you take time out of your day to do this at least once.
- Music has a unique link to our emotions and can be a powerful tool to help you destress so listen to music.
- Stay Hydrated and Get Fresh Air.
- Talk to someone, especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s so important to vent or rant to anyone and just let your suppressed feelings out so they don’t contribute even more to your stress.
In conclusion, we’ve become so accustomed to this level of stress we don’t even realise how bad it’s becoming, so with the upcoming exam season and other commitments teens may have, it’s important that you prioritise yourself and your mental health over exams and we can only hope that the ignorant education systems will do more for teens dealing with exponential amounts of stress.