In a recent study on teenagers, 31% said that their stress level had increased in the past year and 34% said their stress level will increase in the upcoming year. While only 16% said that their overall stress had decreased in the year prior. This topic is really relevant to me because I am part of the 31% and the 34%.
In today’s world, teenagers are loaded with responsibilities unlike many generations before (including both our teachers and our parents). There’s the mounds of homework that us honor students have from taking AP and Dual Credit classes. There’s the stress of applying for college and financial aid/scholarships because of the ridiculously expensive tuition rates around the country. There’s the constant pushing and nagging for us to get a job so we may learn how to take care of ourselves and pay for gas to get from home to school, from school to work and work to home. And don’t even get my started on the pressure put on us to be involved in all kinds of sports and activities and volunteering. Oh and don’t forget the constant reminder to get at least eight hours of sleep at night. All of this must be juggled in 24 hours. Take out the 8 hours of sleep, 7 hours of school, 1 hour for driving, and what does that give us? Eight hours. Eight hours to do homework, write pages and pages of essays for college applications, work, volunteer and finally get that snack in. Is it just me, or does something seem terribly wrong?
Not only are stress levels increasing tremendously for teenagers, but suicide rates are too. In one study from 1999 to 2014, the age-adjusted suicide rate in America increased by 24%. And over the span of 26 years (1983-2009), stress increased 18% for females and 24% for males. The proof is in the pudding ladies and gentlemen, because our current idea of what high schoolers should have to accomplish is completely skewed. Why is nothing being changed about the stress load that is put on students, when an increasing amount of teenagers result in ending their lives. If this many people feel as if though not living at all would be better than having all of this stress put on them, what else needs to be said to change how things are being done?
From a student’s perspective, not a parent or teacher or bystander, I am saying this is enough. I have seen far too many amazing people go through so many terrible things because of what school and society pressures them to do. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe education is an extremely important part of life but I don’t believe that these teenagers, including myself, are reaching their full potential of learning when there is so much on their plate already.
We can’t expect anything to be done by just sitting here and hoping for a magical genie to appear and grant us three wishes. We need to take action.
The biggest thing that can be done easily is for parents to listen and encourage their teenagers that everything will turn out okay. I have heard it too many times where parents try to relate with their kids about how they went through the same thing. This has happened to me and honestly, it makes me even more upset. Times have changed significantly in many ways. The similarities between generations of teenagers is few, and what we need is just someone to be there when we have a breakdown or just need help with homework. Studies have shown that exercise also helps reduce stress in teens. I propose that there be a time during the day where students go for a walk, no phones, no talking, no distractions. Just a time to disconnect and regain focus on what needs to be done.
Although reinforcement of self-sufficiency is very important, we are still learning what and how we need to take care of ourselves, and with the help of those positive role models around us, we can accomplish anything. I mean, “A diamond is merely a lump of coal that did well under pressure” and we can be too.