It’s no secret that depression and anxiety are prevalent among students. While many people blame the fragility of the current generation, many students share a similar source of stress: school. Concern about grades is a common source of teen angst, but these anxieties can lead to serious repercussions.
A study by Newport Academy reported that 19.4 percent of females and 6.4 percent of males experienced a depressive episode in 2016, a baffling statistic when you consider how many children are currently in school today.
That stress doesn’t stop when they graduate either. Many of these anxious students move on to join a highly competitive college environment, and student loans have reached an all-time high. According to CNBC, the collective debt is over $1.4 trillion. That is an $833 billion leap from the previous decade.
This is taking its toll on older students, but younger students aren’t any better off. According to a recent report posted by the Telegraph, anxiety about grades has reached a new extreme for students at a London private school. “Constant emphasis” was placed on exam scores, and students became “medically diagnosed at risk of suicide” due to the stress.
St. Olave’s Grammar School, a selective school in London, even enforced a policy in which students that failed to make straight A grades were excluded from the school. The policy, enforced by the superhead Aydin Önaç, left students feeling deeply distressed.
One student, left unnamed to protect his privacy, was even driven to suicidal ideations. After being told that his invitation to return for Year 13 was withdrawn, he was heard saying that he “might as well kill himself.”
The policy was combated heavily by concerned parents, and headteacher Aydin Önaç has since retired from his position. Local authorities also confirmed that students could only be excluded based on disciplinary issues, not grades. The policy has been removed, but that doesn’t entirely eliminate the problem.
According to the Huffington Post, many students feel that their grades are more important than their mental health. This belief leads to elevated levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. By creating a judgement-free, accepting place for students to express their anxieties about school, we can learn more about the issue.
There’s a lot that needs to be done when it comes to education reform, but making sure the people in the system get the care they need is a step in the right direction.