The Importance of Student Mental Health
School is a trying environment: it’s understandable that juggling academics, extra-curriculars and personal issues can be overwhelming. That being said, it’s important to keep yourself healthy and not let the stress of student life get to your head. This will not only help you do better academically, it will contribute to your overall happiness.
Consider two students writing the same exam. One, having studied, feels confident and prepared; overall, he is calm and collected, ready to work. The other student has also studied—but he hasn’t gotten any sleep because of the stress and is extremely anxious about what lies ahead, barely being able to sit still. The first student will be able to focus, complete the test with confidence, and walk out of the exam room with a positive attitude. The other, even though he’s spent just as much time preparing, is likely to do much worse, and after the test will be extremely disappointed with himself.
If you identify more with the second student—and feel worried and stressed on a daily basis—you must consider taking better care of yourself. This includes getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet and exercising as often as you can. But health is more than that. It’s important to pay attention to how you’re feeling and whether you’re treating yourself with the respect and compassion you deserve.
A big factor that can completely deteriorate mental health is stress, but it is often difficult to avoid it in a school environment. The key is to achieve a balance between working hard and relaxation—of course, your grades will suffer if you do nothing but watch TV (even if that is relaxing!), but you’ll also find it more difficult to concentrate if you’re obsessing over your studies hours or days on end. Take breaks when you’re studying and be kind to yourself. In many cases, there is only so much you can do.
Using stress as a motivator is a good strategy to ensure you’re doing well without cracking under the pressure. For example, if you’re assigned a huge project, try not to freak out over the sheer magnitude of work you have to do and instead focus on the positives. Through your research, you could stumble upon some really interesting things. Channel that stress over the upcoming deadline into your interest in the topic and not only will you feel better, you’ll likely do better on the project overall.
Finally, everyone makes mistakes. But beating yourself up over a low grade or a silly mistake is not only bad for your mental state (it weakens your self-confidence), it’s also not very constructive. Instead of constantly being self-deprecating, look critically at what went wrong, and learn from it: see if you can do better next time. And don’t forget to reward yourself for what you did right, too!
For more information on student mental health, see your guidance counselor.