The Rise of Anxiety

Heather Sandefur, Op/Ed Editor

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Stress in high school students is now at an all-time high due to an overload of school work and social changes.  Today the stress of the academic and social load put on the shoulders of teens is equivalent to the stress levels that would have put someone in a mental institute in the 1950’s.  30 percent of teen girls and 20 percent of boys experience anxiety or have anxiety disorders.  That is roughly 6.3 million teens.  The most terrifying thing is that these estimates are on the low end of the spectrum considering most people do not come forward to get help; only 20 percent of young adults with anxiety disorders get help.

Many social changes have caused this rise in stress levels since 2012.  Social media, online shopping, and the smart phone all make it easier for us to never leave our homes and still have a ‘social’ life.  However, this takes away any face-to-face time and makes developing teens panic in social situations.  We are becoming more solitary.  Teens today also tend to be entitled due to our affluent lifestyle.  When our expectations of relationships and wants are not met, we tend to become reclusive from panic and hurt feelings.  Parents moving for jobs constantly are also a key factor in some teens’ social displacement.  It doesn’t allow for a teenager to make friends and build a support group, some essential to de-stressing.

The added emphasis on grades isn’t helping anyone either.  A great rise in stress levels coincides with the introduction of the new standardized testing across the county in 2015 in the form of Common Core.  In Tennessee we call it TNReady.  Suddenly our grades and our future are based off of a test that does not make any sense.  In my personal experience, when reviewing tests, the answers are taken out of context to the passages we’re given.  In Algebra we’re now learning pieces of Calculus.  My teachers have even admitted that they have never been told to try and cram in this many objectives in a year before.  The test-makers cannot even make up their mind about when the test is to be given.  This past school year, the test was given three weeks earlier than usual.  That means three weeks less time to cover the extra material teachers have been given.  When the teachers are so obviously stressed, how can one expect us, the students who look up to these mentors, to keep our heads and do well on these tests?  What happened to the learning?

Tp conclude, learning isn’t a tangible, calculable thing.  To know how well students are learning, you have to be in the classroom.  It’s unfair to force such stress upon teenagers who, on average, are working to save up money, are struggling with social problems, and are trying as hard as we can to get scholarships based upon grades—the very thing the system is skewing.


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