Words: Katie Jessica Torre
Teens and stress
Throughout high school, stress is one of the hardest things to deal with. It comes in many forms such as: exams, peer pressure, academic expectations, school grades, finals week, homework and even comparing yourself to other students and their academic abilities. I’m heading into year 10 next year, and that’s when prep for exams and actual exams start. Even as a year 9, the stress just keeps building up and it can become unbearable. Our teachers and the staff around us measure success by money and tend to undermine jobs that wouldn’t pay as much as others.
For example, they would promote engineering, but would downplay journalism because it was “hard to find a job in journalism” or it just “didn’t pay well”, which was really hard to deal with considering my interests do involve journalism. Hearing a careers spokesman come in and say that studying journalism in university for 3 years and having led to nothing, and then continue to say that getting into engineering and skilled mathematics was worth it because it “payed well”, was a bit tough.
I don’t think teachers really understand the stress that they put onto us to do well in school. 1 in young 16 Australians suffers depression, 1 in 6 young Australians suffers an anxiety condition and a shocking 1 in 4 young Australians suffers a mental disorder which in my belief is due to problems as a result of school stress. I’ve had many stressful experiences in high school.
Before I was homeschooling, I used to have one teacher that gave us a massive speech about finals in year 11 and 12. She said that her daughter got 99% in mathematics and continued to say “my son only got 96%, which wasn’t as good as my daughter”, and that was really shocking to everyone. In our eyes 96% was almost impossible considering how hard maths was for the majority of the class, and this made everyone believe that we needed to get extremely high marks to have any achievement of success, making the pressure sky rocket and the stress double.
Little things like that and everything else on top puts a lot of stress onto young people to be successful and this is exactly why people drop out of school early. A lot of teens aren’t aware of how to get help with stress properly which leads to drinking, smoking and making risky decisions as that’s all they know to turn to. I think that schools need to start taking the opportunity to promote stress relief instead of piling it on. One of the main reasons I started homeschooling was because of all the pressure. Homeschooling has made my stress levels decrease by a really noticeable amount, but for the people who don’t have that opportunity – organisations like Youth Beyond Blue and Headspace can really help with dealing with stress and pressure. But I believe that the schools themselves need to incorporate a compulsory lesson in mental health or maybe a full class once a weak dedicated to dealing with these pressures.