Stress on the Psyche: How does societal and academic pressure impact the adolescent mind and promote growing up too fast?

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First…An introductory video

 


An overview

Each and every individual within a functioning society is heavily affected by societal and academic pressure. We can define this pressure as set expectations and standards enforced on an entire school community, and/or general society.

This pressure is so embedded in our daily life that it’s considered a luxury to have even one vacant, stress-free day.

The main issue resides with the fact that societal pressure has a gravely negative impact on the adolescent mind and can be a catalyst for several chronic mental health problems that persist during adulthood.

WHAT IS THE IMPACT ON THE ADOLESCENT MIND?

Academic pressure:

The academic competitiveness in high schools has been constantly sky-rocketing, enforcing mountains of stress on the adolescent mind, which can very well lead to a number of mental health problems. It is evident that an increase in academic stress results in an increased likelihood of developing chronic mental health problems such as critical anxiety and depression.

It has further been proven that students under this pressure perform more poorly, ergo, this stress not only affects the adolescent mind in ways that can deteriorate mental health, it also affects overall performance quality, which can cause the student to fall further down the rabbit hole, experiencing anticipatory stress due to the pressure to excel in school.

Societal pressure:

one of the primary reasons children and teens ‘grow up too fast is by projecting unfair responsibility and unrealistic standards onto them, this has a long-term negative impact on them and can even result in trauma that plays a large part in what qualities one affected by this will portray in adulthood.

Research shows that a child is greatly influenced by observing other’s actions, we can therefore deduce that the environment one is surrounded by gravely influences their behavior, therefore, the adolescent mind is likewise impacted by the surrounding environment. One’s environment can promote growing up too fast if the child or teen is in an environment surrounded by people who exercise unhealthy or more “adult” habits. 

The impact of toxic stress on children and teens from a pediatric perspective – PBS News Hour



Social Stigma

Social stigma is prejudicing and stereotyping an individual with differing physical, social, and mental conditions than what is perceived as “normal” within a society.

Social stigmatizing is a large portion of why deviating from societal standards can be a subconscious fear. We try to appeal to society’s watchful and judgmental gaze, in hopes that we blend in with other members of society to avoid being labeled as “abnormal.” These labels stemming from this stigma become very pernicious to our mental health, and most specifically the feeble adolescent mind. 

According to the American Psychiatric Association, “Stigma not only affects individuals…but also the loved ones who support them often including family members..”  A strong support system is one of the most crucial elements to maintain stable mental health, once the support system is also fractured, it’s highly likely that one’s mental health, especially adolescences, will rapidly deteriorate. 


The student’s perspective…

According to most high school students, the leading cause for their stress seems to be school demand and frustrations, alongside managing a social life and the need to conform to societal standards to avoid alienation. 

Below is a padlet I created for those of you who would like to share their own experiences being both a high school student juggling academic stress and a teenager maintaining their social life: 

Click here to access the padlet!

 


The call to action!


My for now response:

My response as of now is to create support groups amongst students in order to provide mental support to one another and take on the course of action in small portions.

My ideal goal is to incorporate a program into each student’s schedule to discuss the importance of self-care and to maintain positivity during these times. Students can be divided into different groups to support and encourage one another, as well as socialize with each other. Within these groups we can also allow for time to review homework and classwork, as well as become closer to one another through socialization, ultimately, relieving pressure off of the school day.

With this program implemented, this can allow to ease the pressure inflicted onto the students and allow them to become more comfortable with one another socially. Overall, this program will ease and decrease anxiety levels amongst teens via allocating more time for them to complete the work causing them this stress and pressure in an environment designed to decrease this stress.

This is a time of day that students and teens can look forward to, with this small step being able to manage anxiety levels and manage workload pragmatically, we are already instigating a change in how academic and societal pressure affects us mentally.


What can you do? 

Communicate with your school director or guidance counselor, as well as people within your support group. Although a formidable step to take, it’s possible to boycott certain things that put an unethical amount of pressure on us. Potentially showcasing solidarity amongst each other to make your voice be heard within society, as well as exercise empathy with one another, and combat this issue as a unity. 

Please give some feedback in the comments as well of any ideas you might like to share!

 

 

Some helpful resources: 

Emotional support hotline

24 hour informational service helpline

11 Comments

11 comments

  1. Deborah_235

    Hey Lulwah,

    I really love your project because it is talking about a big issue that so many students are sadly facing right now. I like how the main focus of your program is ensuring that people are in a comfortable and safe place. They can share ideas without getting judged, hear other people’s stories which could make them feel like someone can actually relate to them, and that they are not alone/not the only one dealing with their problem.
    Very good work!!

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      Hi Deobrah,

      Thank you! Yes, my intention was to promote inclusivity and reduce academic pressure at the same time through my action, hopefully, this is a way we can tackle both issues simultaneously!

  2. Emma_222

    Hi Lulwah! You chose a super relevant topic that is great for this conference because surely everyone who views your page will be able to find a point of relation in some way. I think you’re right to place students at the forefront of your solution. We all can see that the system of high expectations in society is not going to disappear on its own any time soon, and I think collaborating and creating a group understanding is a perfect way to start. Well done!

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      Hi Emma!

      I agree, this was the main reason why I chose this topic, I believe combatting the leading causes of stress and pressure in teens head-on is the best way to improve mental health overall. Thank you!

  3. Avatar

    Hi Lulwah!
    I loved that you chose to cover this topic and I think it is especially relevant right now. I think you proposed a great solution of creating support groups and giving time for students to destress. Building a community for students sounds like a great idea and I can definitely see how that would reduce some academic pressure.

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      Thank you! I’m glad you agree!

  4. Jing Jing Munson

    Hi Lulwah!

    Awesome project! I think you chose a super important and relevant topic that many if not all of us here taking GOA classes can understand and sympathize with. I love that you tackled many different aspects of this topic: impact, causes, social stigma, support groups, etc. We can all relate and many professionals and adults can see this increase in societal and academic pressure, but are we spreading awareness and growing support in the right ways? Not really! Your project is rooted in personal experience and straight facts, shedding light on a topic we all need to be more aware of and take action to help fight against it and support those in need.

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      Thank you! I’m really glad that I could reach across to people who are also outside of my GOA course who also resonate with this project.

  5. Avatar

    I like your mention of how children are heavy influenced by observing others. Recognizing concepts like vicarious reinforcement can give us some direction into leveraging observational learning to set solid examples for dealing with stress.

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      Thank you! This was also something I was unaware of. By investigating the trigger causes of certain behaviors we can best find a way to combat them.

  6. Ethan

    Hi Lulwah, I thought your project was really interesting, and your choice of topic was great, because I can definitely associate with a lot of the points about wanting to blend/fit in, and having homework pile on just increasing my stress levels. Overall I think you did a really great job.

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