A Balancing Act: School and Mental Health

Elizabeth Allen, Staff Writer

School can be highly stressful for all students and, over time, this excess of stress can take a toll on a student’s mental health. School and other basic tasks can become overwhelming, and excessive stress and other factors can give students anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. 

Many students can probably agree with senior Mickey Riney’s account when it comes to school and mental health. “[School] makes me more nervous and more stressed out,” said Riney, explaining that rigorous classes such as precalculus are anxiety inducers.

Students may experience anxiety from workload, testing, or giving presentations in front of the class. On a metaphorical school-and-mental-health scale, these are things that start to pile up on the school side. 

When asked if she feels like she can balance school and mental health, Riney explained that “sometimes its harder to balance than others.”

Junior Jayden Gray expressed similar beliefs, stating that he “can’t exactly balance it well. Mainly for the reason that it causes so much stress and anxiety, it sometimes just seems like you are in a hole that you can’t get out of, for 4 years.”

However, while school can be a stressor to many students, it can also offer solutions to students. Students can speak with counselors about their problems, and they may refer students to low cost therapists for outside of school help. 

There can be many solutions to dealing with stress, depression, and anxiety about school and other life problems. For instance, while Riney described going to a counselor outside of school, she said that otherwise, she will talk with her mom. Talking with a close friend, parental figure, or trained professional can drastically help a student sort out their problems and get a different perspective.

Other alternative solutions can also help students. For instance, if a student is panicking before a test or presentation, they might try breathing exercises. The 4-7-8 technique, developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, which promotes relaxation is a simple breathing technique where you breath in through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale through your mouth for eight seconds, for four times. It is just one of many exercises that may help with anxiety.

Gray also mentioned that he goes to music therapy which is when a therapist uses music with a client in order to communicate things hard to describe with words, like feelings. Gray continued, adding that this alternative type of therapy helps him express himself.

Balancing your mental health, school, and other activities (such as sports, clubs, or a part-time job) can be difficult. Some students may find it hard to balance all of these responsibilities, and their metaphorical scale for balancing these things may tip over. 

When this happens, it may be hard to find motivation to do daily tasks, and students may be faced by their critical inner voice. A student may be faced by feelings that grow hard to deal with and might find that these feelings don’t go away after the passing of a stressful event. It is when negative feelings take over one’s life for more than a few weeks that students may become more concerned about their mental health. 

If this happens, especially when these feelings are overwhelming for a long period of time, it is important to seek help. It can be painful and scary to open up about these things, but if these feelings are harming a student’s ability to deal with day to day life, then there is nothing more important than starting to let people they are close to know, so they can begin to get the help they need. 

It is important to keep a balance between your mental health and school and know that there are people that care and resources available to help you when the stress becomes too much.