Updated: Apr 19
Jonah Samuel. April 9th, 2018
Student mental health has often been overlooked. In recent years we have seen a spike in the number in the number of suicides of students due to mental health issues.
Within the years of 2007 and 2015 the suicide rate of children between the ages of 15 and 19 has been doubled; the climbing rates have shown that especially amongst teenage girls that the suicide rate has been a 40-year high; in fact according to NBC news we see that suicide rates has gone up by nearly 28 percent since the 2000s.
What could possibly the reason that these children would have to come to such a conclusion and decide to end their lives?
I believe that within our society, we are in a sense losing the true essence as to what education really is; instead of instilling the idea that we go to institutes to learn we instill this idea that academics is an end in itself and that one is only truly intelligent if they stand out academically above the rest. A combination of intense of amounts of pressure, fear of failure and a system that lacks the features for students to vent out their pressures causes many students to decline into depression.
This can lead to fatal results in some circumstances, take for example the case of Madison Holleran; a Penn State student who on the 14th of January 2014 took her own life due to intense academic stress and having to uphold high standards; although people around her said that they saw her as a bright and cheerful person. Students hide behind a mask and say that we are alright and we can do this in hopes of at least putting up a brave front.
Personally I had a very similar struggle; I attended the International school of Choueifat which offers students a SABIS curriculum, which requires one to study the American and the British system. This alone as a high school student was daunting to me, the method that Choueifat had used caused me to suffer the most.
On average I had to write 2 exams a day during the week and on Saturdays about 4 exams. Granted this was due to number of courses I had selected, but at the time I had no understanding of what they required me to study as I had still not figured out what I wanted to do with my life. So I went to my councillor who suggested I take on a heavy course load in order to increase my chances with colleges. With his advice in mind I started off my semester with about 12 courses. The pressure was intense, not because of the amount of studying or reading I had to do, but rather because of the intense examinations and the weight of each exam on my average; which I had to maintain at a set level.
The pressure began to build up within my head and our school had no one who was willing to listen to me, they would all simply say this is the way all students have to work and that this is how life was, which would seem understandable if we were adults. But we were just kids, and our school seemed to lack the simple understanding that we were drowning and had no support.
The data I collected shows that students react this way mainly due to the lack of attention given by some schools to student’s mental health. By ignoring the mental health of students, schools are leaving out a very important variable when trying to shape their minds. The well being of the students’ emotions, if not treated properly, could lead to very serious effects. Another important factor is that by pressuring the students’ into studying they are more likely to not enjoy education and more likely to simply do it in order to be accepted rather than for learning; which in the long run could greatly affect their view upon education.
Jonah is a Sophomore at Georgetown University Qatar. He will be majoring in International Economics.