5 Ways School Can Affect Your Mental Health and Here’s How to Cope
School is often associated as a positive place where students can learn, play and build friendships in a safe environment. Most students enjoy school as they get to meet, spend time with their friends and socialise. However, there can be several factors of school that can be negative to a student’s mental health. In this article, I will be sharing with you some of the ways school can be harmful to your mental health and also some of the things you can do to ease the situation.
Despite the safe environment that schools provide for socialising, bullying among students is rather common in schools. An estimate of 6 in 10 youths experience some form of bullying throughout their lives (DitchTheLabel, 2019). Especially with the prevalence of social media, the process of cyberbullying can carry on even outside of school. Being a victim of bullying can negatively affect an individual’s mental wellbeing. Victims of bullying often have low self-esteem and are at a higher risk of developing anxiety and depression due to reasons such as peer isolation and physical abuse (Graham, 2016).
The first thing to do as a victim would be to voice out. If you are getting bullied in school, letting your teachers, trusted friends and your parents know can be a good start. A good reminder to tell yourself is to not be afraid of speaking out. As for cyberbullying, telling someone you trust can be helpful because they can advise you on what you can do to prevent being cyberbullied. Social media platforms are well-equipped with functions that can help you with cyberbullies such as blocking and filtering. It can be difficult dealing with cyberbullying due to the free access of the web. Therefore, if you feel overwhelmed, it is important to disconnect every now and then.
2. Academic Results
Stress from academics can be harmful to an individual’s mental health. As academics results are perceived as an important element in schools, students often feel pressured to excel in their academics. However, the pressure may also be coming from other sources such as expectations from teachers and parents, and even self-expectations. Academic stress in students may develop into anxiety, low self-esteem due to fears of inferiority or depression from the inability to live up to expectations, which in turn could affect their academic results even further (Thakkar, 2019).
If you are encountering academic stress, the first thing to do is to communicate with your parents and your teachers. This can be helpful in identifying the aspects of your academics that is causing you distress. Furthermore, they can guide and help you overcome those difficulties step by step. Being able to confide in someone can help alleviate some of that stress as well. It is also important to know that although grades are an important element of our academics, it is not the only factor that dictates our future. Having self-reassurance can also help when dealing with academic stress.
Having to finish assignments after a long day of school can be stressful for some students. Students can potentially feel overwhelmed knowing that they have to put aside extra free time to complete their assignments. Even when having free time for hobbies, the thought of having unfinished work can still be on their minds which could lead to anxiety. In addition, submission dates can also add on to stress. Having many assignments to do can be one avenue of stress, but not knowing how to do these assignments can be an added factor of stress as well.
A good approach to this would be to plan and pace yourself on the amount of assignments you should try to complete within a time frame. Planning helps because it gives you time to do work and have time for yourself. If you encounter questions you are unable to answer, do not beat yourself up too much about it. What you can do is to ask your friends for guidance so that you are able to learn. If you feel overwhelmed, always reach out to your teachers. They may be able to provide you with a deadline extension.
Making friends at school comes naturally to some of us. However, some of us find ourselves struggling to make friends. Having no friends in school can be really tough as it may induce loneliness and can lead to feelings of inferiority. Feeling as if no one wants to befriend you can also be harmful to your self-esteem. If these feelings of inferiority are left unchecked, it could develop into something more severe. Social isolation by peers can also be detrimental to our mental health as it is somewhat a form of being bullied.
A good mindset to have when trying to make friends at the start is to understand that it can be awkward but you should not worry too much. Finding common topics to talk about helps with bonding. If you are unable to find one, you can always try talking about school and the conversation may flow into other topics naturally. If you are someone who usually keeps to yourself, wearing a smile can make you look friendlier and more approachable.
5. Long Hours
Having classes that run from morning to the evening can be very draining for anybody. It is not only physically draining but mentally draining as well. Long school days can potentially lead to fatigue that can adversely affect our health if we fail to get sufficient rest. Its long hours can often lead to loss of interest in doing other activities after school due to fatigue. Feeling tired or sleepy also makes us more emotional.
A good mindset to adopt when feeling down due to long hours in school, is to know that you are not going through this alone. Your friends are probably going through it as well and talking to each other about it can help reduce mental stress and provide a small boost in your mood. As for the physical aspect, ensuring that you get plenty of sleep the night before can help you with the long hours a bit more. Bringing some sweets or snacks can also help to keep your energy levels up. If you do feel sleepy, you can try sneaking in short naps in between breaks to recharge a little.
Although school can feel tiring and draining at times, it can still be a fun place to make friends and discover new things about ourselves through learning. There will be tougher times but we must know that we are not going through it alone. If you feel overwhelmed by aspects of the school curriculum, talking to a teacher or a school counsellor can help you get through it.
It is also important to know that although grades are important, they do not exactly define who we are as an individual. Certain things we learn in class may not apply in our lives, but it can help to build our character and introduce to us new perspectives and different ways to think. Lastly, always remember that communication is important in tougher times as it can be help us cope better when our feelings are communicated.
Graham, S. (2016). Victims of Bullying in Schools. Theory Into Practice, 55(2), 136-144.
Thakkar, A. (2019). Academic Stress in Students. Retrieved 5 September 2019, from https://medium.com/one-future/academic-stress-in-students-498c34f064d7