The impact of excessive academic pressure on student’s mental health

Mental Health suicide prevention
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Pursuing academic excellence comes with hard work, perseverance, dedication, and pressure in today’s rapidly evolving societal sphere. Amidst all the vigour and collective effort, students often find themselves trapped in a relentless, unyielding cycle of denial, procrastination, and guilt, where their focus centres around the pervasive culture of self-sabotaging and academic validation that pressurises an individual to outperform themselves at any expense. Be it neglecting their own emotional and physical well-being.

This raises the question, “If the students are so determined to exceed their expectations, why do many fail to achieve their aspirations?” The fear of falling short.

The statistics

According to official statistics from 2023, 51 per cent of examinees passed the National Education Board (NEB) examination, leaving 49 per cent ungraded. While some students may lack interest in academics, I believe some were sincerely motivated to succeed in this examination.

However, the escalating fear of failure hampered their growth mindset and potential for success. Even among the 51 per cent who achieved a passing grade, it is not guaranteed that all of the students were satisfied with their results, as the concern of not meeting self or societal expectations continues to outweigh their accomplishments.

Failure to understand life

Students frequently prioritise fulfilling the cultural standards of success, they often fail to recognise that life is much more than academic achievements. While striving for success is praiseworthy, prioritising others’ outlooks over self-sufficiency can affect one’s cognitive well-being.

The weight of academic workload on students has heightened due to the importance of academic performance for future endeavours. In the existing fast-paced generation, it is crucial to understand that life itself is a competition where success is only reserved for those individuals who think beyond the textbooks and ingrain their practical understanding in real-life circumstances.

Focusing only on scholastic accomplishment will not ultimately guide to success in the wider aspect of life. Failing to learn this concept leads to the illusion that academic accomplishment is the only deciding factor of achievement, resulting in increased pressure to excel academically.

The pursuit of academic achievement is often accompanied by stress and self-doubt. When students inevitably face a setback, they either increase their efforts or give up entirely. Most students tend to surrender themselves to defeat as their self-esteem is hindered due to exhaustion and fatigue. While fulfilling scholastic commitments, students experience overwhelming emotions of anxiety and distress, which is a direct result of excess academic pressure.

As students strive to meet deadlines and accomplish other theoretical requirements, they often opt for unhealthy coping mechanisms like self-isolation, excessive screen time, and procrastination. The continuous pressure to excel can drive students towards maladaptive demeanours like substance abuse and self-harm.

It is well-known that anything done excessively can be detrimental. Excess academic pressure might initially yield positive outcomes, but it’s often short-lived. When students inevitably encounter setbacks, they begin to withdraw themselves socially. The academic demands may outweigh their social life and create a strained atmosphere. The imbalance between holistic well-being and educational objectives might lead the students to develop conditions like eating disorders, insomnia, chronic stress, etc.

Long term success

Healthy Mindset
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Physical and mental well-being is directly linked to long-term success as it encourages students to think beyond academic validation, thus nurturing creativity and innovation. Therefore, students need to overcome academic stress to foster resilience and confidence in their lives.

This voyage requires a significant level of determination and self-awareness, the qualities that can be attained by enhancing one’s quality of life. Engaging actively in extracurricular activities, practising mindfulness, limiting screen time, journaling, and adopting a healthy lifestyle are some effective ways to reduce stress actively.

Also, recognising the importance of seeking help when required is vital. Students should embrace a flexible study plan and maintain a balanced routine that prioritizes both educational and social commitments. This approach prevents burnout and allows for leisure time.

Students need to refrain from comparing themselves to others, since they may not comprehend the circumstances under which the others are performing. Hence, students need to acknowledge their accomplishments. Furthermore, leveraging mistakes as opportunities and recognizing failure as an aspect of the learning journey helps to promote a growth mindset and fosters a positive attitude towards learning. Disregarding social comparison and maintaining confidence in oneself are the cornerstones of success.

In conclusion, the adverse effects of excessive academic pressure on student mental health remain undeniable as it limits students to attain a healthy lifestyle and hampers their emotional well-being. Hence, it is important to facilitate a supportive and nurturing environment that values holistic well-being over academic achievement alone.

The increased stress and anxiety among students can be reduced by empowering them personally and creating a fun learning environment. Both educators and parents need to validate and acknowledge the students’ dedication to their studies. Additionally, creating a sound environment for the students where they can share their problems without any hesitation is important.

Educational institutions and society as a whole must recognise the importance of prioritizing student mental health and implementing measures to alleviate academic stress by addressing the root causes and promoting healthy study habits.

By prioritising a culture of balance and holistic well-being within the educational system, a burden-free environment can be established for the students, providing them the freedom to communicate without restriction.

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Maharjan is a writer.

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