As this school year begins to come to a close, many students are feeling the pressure to raise their grades before transitioning into another year of education, whether that be one of their last years in high school or the beginning of college or university programs.
Between cramming for tests, racing to finish assignments, or watching as extracurriculars become more time-consuming in preparation for final showcases, tournaments, or projects, students are having a hard time balancing their responsibilities while keeping their mental health in check.
According to the results of a survey conducted amongst 50 students from both Carihi and Timberline, 65 per cent of participants said that they experience stress on a daily basis, whether that be a result of school, work, extracurriculars, or other personal matters.
“I feel stress when I know deadlines are approaching me and I don’t feel prepared for them,” Carihi student Kate Regier says, using an upcoming test as an example, saying it tends to be all she can think about, shifting other important matters aside.
2018 Carihi grad and current Capilano University student Katie Chaisson adds to this idea, saying that “as a university student, my stress is mostly based around school.”
Chaisson says that with so much on her plate, she experiences stress “at least once a day.”
In fact, this seems to be the overarching theme in the responses to the survey, as 68 per cent of respondents believe that school is the main source of stress and anxiety in their lives.
But how does this affect students’ abilities to learn and build knowledge on topics that they’re being taught?
Well, 63 per cent of the surveyed high school students do feel that the amount of pressure they’re under and mental distress they experience is negatively affecting their learning.
“I don’t believe that students are being taught how to deal with stress properly,” says Carihi student Jake Aune, “mostly because there [are] more and different kinds of stressors on the youth of today.”
Aune adds that this may be because of the idea that “some of the people responsible for teaching us about mental health just simply aren’t qualified or trained to do so,” as they may not be intimately familiar with the changing world teens are dealing with these days.
“High school taught me literally nothing about stress or mental health,” Chaisson agrees. “Since being in university, where we actually talk about our own mental health and issues, I’ve gotten a much clearer grasp on [my] mental health than I ever had in high school.”
On the other hand, as of this year future graduating classes are required to take a Career, Life, and Education 11 course, which they must pass in order to graduate.
“I think that having the career course was pretty helpful no matter how many people thought it was lame,” Regier says. “The mental health unit helped me pick apart [where] my anxieties and stressors were coming from and it helped me build methods of how to counteract my stress.”
While 75 per cent of survey participants feel like they are not being properly taught to deal with stress, many students have developed their own ways to cope with anxiety.
Some of these activities included being with positive influences such as close friends or family, meditating, exercising, listening to music, and sleeping.
If students find themselves experiencing abnormal amounts of stress, they are urged to speak to counsellors or visit online resources, such as stressstrategies.ca/resources