Top 10 Reasons School Can Be Harmful For Mental Health - Listverse (2023)


Something true for almost everyone reading this is that our everyday lives as children were defined by going to school. We learned new things, manners, and how to live with other people, and we made new friends. Fun, right?

However, nowadays, high school has taken on a whole new meaning for teenage students. There are a number of reasons why high school in the United States can be quite harmful for a student’s mental health, and we will be covering ten of them in this list.

10 Bullying

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Just about all of us probably knew at least one kid in school who deserved a good lesson in manners. Well, the American Society for the Positive Care of Children has found that 28 percent of all children aged 12 to 18 have suffered from bullying.[1] Bullying is a great nuisance for students, for it turns the school from a healthy learning environment to a scary no-man’s-land. If a student cannot evolve in a threat-free school, how can he learn? To make matters worse, with the rise of cyberbullying, the threat is greater than ever.

If a victim is physically bullied, he may fear for his immediate safety. Plus, alerting a teacher or adult can be scary, especially if the bully threatens to be even more cruel if an adult is involved. A young student can easily be intimidated by the class bully. And if the bully turns the school into a place associated with being beaten or getting their money or food stolen, why would a child want to go, let alone go there to learn and work?

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9 Fatigue

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If you walk through a high school’s hall, you’ll probably see a bunch of drowsy students with endless bags under their eyes. This can be explained by students’ answers to an online survey conducted by researchers. When asked how they felt in school, 39 percent of the students simply answered that they were tired.[2] Indeed, following classes all day is hard enough without having to wake up at 6:00 AM to catch a 6:30 bus. Add to that extracurricular activities, stress, homework, and deadlines, and you can end up tired pretty quickly.

Fatigue in students can lead to decreased performance in tests and sleeping in class (which means falling behind in the class), and it becomes a vicious circle of having to catch up at home and missing even more sleep. A healthy amount of sleep for a teenager in high school is actually 9.5 hours, but on average, they only get 7.5. Not getting enough sleep can make a teen irritable, tired, and depressed, which leads to a downfall in grades.

8 Panic Attacks

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Agoraphobia can be a major cause of panic attacks, and if we take a look at schools, they are packed with seemingly endless masses of students scurrying from one class to another. Panic attacks can come from drug use or other factors, too, and two to three percent of teenagers will have a panic attack during a given year.[3]

Panic attacks can be extremely frightening, and obviously, a student who regularly experiences them cannot study efficiently. Students suffering from panic disorder are often distracted in class or carried away by their thoughts, which is why they can easily be overwhelmed if overloaded with information. Panic attacks can also be spurred by the fear of an upcoming event or overthinking something, such as a test, the consequences of a bad grade, and so on.

7 Psychiatric Disorders

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High school has undeniable effects on teenagers’ mental health, and the factors are almost unending: stress, anxiety, fear, bullying, etc. It’s no wonder that more than six percent of teenagers are taking prescription psychiatric drugs.[4] These can be for anything from depression to ADHD, which can cause a student to easily get distracted and lose track of what is happening in class, making it dreadfully easy to fall behind on their notes, making it harder to prepare for tests or assignments, further digging a hole in their grades.

A student with ADHD will find it more difficult to succeed in standardized testing, for example, but also to do basic assignments and homework since they may have difficulty listening and paying attention in class. This leads to them having a lower view of their intelligence compared to other students when, in reality, it is not related to their mental capacity. Often, the problem is not related to their intelligence but rather to a lack of motivation to keep up and pay more careful attention. Instead, they decide to give up because of the difficulty they encounter while trying to concentrate.

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6 Standardized Testing

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Grades are scary, and school is harder than ever. How better to test students than to put them through a series of stressful tests that may or may not define their future? Well, let’s have a look at how many students aged 13 to 18 report having test anxiety: 25 percent.[5] One student out of four will freeze, sweat, or feel nausea when they find themselves in front of their blank test. It only gets worse after that because of the importance American high schools give to grades and results. If a student fails their final exams, it can have consequences for their higher education and eventually their career.

When such an emphasis is put on a test, so easy to fail if we get the answers wrong, it’s only normal to be stressed out. Standardized testing is a major academic fail for many reasons, one of which is the fact that not every brain functions the same way. Just because one student has better memory than another, it does not define his intelligence.

5 Anxiety

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Students can be exposed to a great deal of worrisome situations in high school, such as deadlines, social relationships, fear of failure, and so on. The overwhelming amount of things students have to think of, remember, and hand in is simply scary. And it is not getting any better; anxiety is on the rise among teenagers.[6]

Stress makes it very difficult to work, deal with school, and have healthy social relationships, which we often forget is critical to a child’s development. In many ways, the challenges that face students in high school only make matters worse, with social relations at school being more and more difficult and many subjects requiring oral presentations. A student with anxiety will often be very distressed by the idea of presenting his work in front of the whole class. And, let’s be honest, even for those who do not already suffer from anxiety, speaking in front of a crowd is not always easy.

4 Depression

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Being a teenager is hard enough without having to face difficult times at school; it can lead to a student feeling sadder and sadder for weeks or even months. Many students can feel crushed by the workload and pressure and resort to giving up, feeling the emptiness consume them. They detach themselves more and more from school, the teachers, everything, impairing their mental health and, of course, their grades.

The exhaustion often felt by teenagers at school only makes matters worse. As many as one teenager out of five experiences depression before entering adulthood.[7] In extreme cases, depression may lead to self-harm or even suicide. Financial problems can also be a cause for some cases. However, it is difficult to get an idea of exactly how many people suffer from depression, because many depressed students don’t actually seek out help or even talk about it to anyone. Depression is a recognized mental disorder, is more common than we think, and is not limited to students. If you feel depressed, talk to a specialist. Don’t stay alone.

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3 Homework

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Ah, homework, a mandatory exercise demanded by many teachers in high school. It is not a fun activity; more often than not, it mostly consists of exercises to train the student for upcoming tests. A survey led by the University of Phoenix reveals that high school students have to deal with an average 17.5 hours of homework per week.[8] This amount of homework may often result in late nights, stress, and fatigue, not to mention the pressure to do well, hand the assignment in on time, etc. And if students fail to hand in homework, they will get a bad grade, so they can’t allow themselves to just leave it. Everything must be done, or else...

Many believe homework is bad for children, simply because they need time to get some rest for their developing minds. A student who has spent the whole day at school should not go straight back to work when they get home. It’s unhealthy and very tiring for a young mind. Plus, overloading children with homework is only counterproductive because they will be working all evening and tire themselves out, leaving them fatigued the next day at school.

2 Stress

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Stress in high school is very frequent. It has many occasions to manifest, and the overall pressure of “do well in school, get a good job” can be very crushing for students. And then there’s the amount of important life choices that arise during high school, such as finding a college and what a student wants to do afterward. It goes on forever and can be pretty stressful. Then come the deadlines, homework, social anxiety, grades, and more.

A research study from NYU found that 49 percent of high schoolers felt a great deal of stress on a daily basis.[9] Stress can make it very hard for a student to think straight, perform well in tests, or even function. Elite high school students are driven to aim for the most prestigious colleges, putting even more pressure on them to be successful and to get better results and grades. But stress will only make matters worse and wear them out, especially the effects of stress that will follow them throughout adulthood.

1 Social Integration

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An important factor for any worker in any working space, not only students, is the feeling of belonging. Feeling out of place somewhere is very bad for a person’s well-being, and students need to feel like they are a part of the school to be happy and safe. Otherwise, it can impair their work, mental health, or both. So imagine if, on average, more than half of high school students did not feel engaged at their school. That would be catastrophic, right? Well, a Gallup poll says that only 44 percent of high school students felt engaged with their school.[10]

School is not just a place to learn about scholarly subjects; it is also a place where students learn to coexist, make friends, and cooperate with others, and if teenagers do not feel at ease in this environment, how can they learn the social skills required to live a healthy life? High school is often described as hostile for those who are not the “popular” type, and if only 44 percent of students feel at home and safe at school, then it is not the students’ faults; it is the schools’ fault.

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Overall, school is home to many students with mental disorders, and they won’t be getting any better unless American high schools change their methods soon. Many countries have succeeded in having a healthy learning environment. Take, for example, Finland, which has abolished standardized testing for their students (apart from one exam at the end of senior year) and which has gotten amazing results ever since.

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Read about more not-so-great aspects of public education on Top 10 Crazy Things That Crazy Schools Have Banned and 10 Ridiculous Instances Of Zero Tolerance In Schools.

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Top 10 Reasons School Can Be Harmful For Mental Health - Listverse? ›

Lower education is generally associated with a lack of control and resilience, as well as exposure to more day-to-day stressors. This can negatively impact a person's mental health and lead to disorders like depression.

How can school be bad for your mental health? ›

Lower education is generally associated with a lack of control and resilience, as well as exposure to more day-to-day stressors. This can negatively impact a person's mental health and lead to disorders like depression.

What are the most common mental health issues in schools? ›

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, one in five children and adolescents experience a mental health problem during their school years. Examples include stress, anxiety, bullying, family problems, depression, learning disability, and alcohol and substance abuse.

Does school cause anxiety and depression? ›

While school offers many benefits to adolescents, such as connecting with peers, overscheduling and academic pressure can be a significant source of stress, contributing to mental health issues including teen depression.

How can school cause stress? ›

Concerns about not having enough friends, not being in the same class as friends, not being able to keep up with friends in one particular area or another, interpersonal conflicts, and peer pressure are a few of the very common ways kids can be stressed by their social lives at school.

Does school cause stress and anxiety? ›

Back-to-school is an exciting time. But for many kids, it can cause stress and anxiety—even children who are usually easy going may experience butterflies and those with some anxiety may get more nervous and clingier than usual. Parents feel the pain, too. Leaving a crying child at school is hard for everyone.

Does homework cause stress? ›

Students with too much homework have elevated stress levels.

Higher-achieving students — those who may have more homework — are at particular risk for stress-related health issues including sleep deprivation, weight loss, stomach problems and headaches.

What are the top 5 mental health issues? ›

Below are the five most common mental health disorders in America and their related symptoms:
  • Anxiety Disorders. The most common category of mental health disorders in America impacts approximately 40 million adults 18 and older. ...
  • Mood Disorders. ...
  • Psychotic Disorders. ...
  • Dementia. ...
  • Eating disorders.
Jan 30, 2020

What are the top 3 mental health issues? ›

Of those, the three most common diagnoses are anxiety disorders, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These three conditions make up around 30 percent of all diagnoses of mental illness in America.

How stress affects students? ›

But research shows that feeling overwhelming school-related stress actually reduces your motivation to do the work, impacts your overall academic achievement, and increases your odds of dropping out. Stress can also cause health problems such as depression, poor sleep, substance abuse, and anxiety.

Why is anxiety bad in school? ›

Left untreated, anxiety disorders can make it hard for students to get schoolwork done or study. It may affect their relationships with peers and teachers, too. In some cases, students with anxiety disorders miss a lot of school days. Or they may avoid school altogether.

How much does school cause anxiety? ›

What Percentage of Students Are Stressed?
StatePercentage of Students Stressed Out
6 more rows

What stresses most in school? ›

Lack of sleep. Too much work or homework. Different routine. No support.

Is school a main cause of depression? ›

School is usually not the main cause of depression. However, it can be a factor in causing or increasing teen depression due to the various stressors that occur in school, including bullying, academic pressure, and challenging peer relationships.

How does school stress affect the brain? ›

Stress shifts the balance between multiple systems underlying learning and memory. At rest, this balance is tilted towards the 'cognitive' memory system depending on the hippocampus, allowing for the formation and recall of flexible memories.

Why do kids cry to go to school? ›

Most kids cry when they are taken to school because of the separation anxieties, the very thought of getting away from their parents makes them cry. Dragging the kids to school forcefully does no good as that would mean that there must be something to worry about which makes the child more scared and they start crying.

Is stress from school bad? ›

A certain level of stress is normal. And positive stress responses from events such as changing schools and meeting new friends can actually help students learn and grow. But when exposed to repeated stressful events without the tools to manage feelings, stress can become emotionally and physically toxic.

Why are teens so stressed? ›

Common things that teenagers say cause them stress include: homework and school (especially exams) expectations and pressure to do well at school from parents and family. social relationships with friends and boyfriends/girlfriends and the issue of sex.

What stress does to your body? ›

It can suppress your immune system, upset your digestive and reproductive systems, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, and speed up the aging process. It can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.

What can stress cause? ›

Physical symptoms of stress include:
  • Low energy.
  • Headaches.
  • Upset stomach, including diarrhea, constipation, and nausea.
  • Aches, pains, and tense muscles.
  • Chest pain and rapid heartbeat.
  • Insomnia.
  • Frequent colds and infections.
  • Loss of sexual desire and/or ability.
Aug 19, 2021

Why kids should have less homework? ›

First and foremost, excessive amounts of homework can be detrimental to students' mental and physical health. It can lead to increased stress and anxiety, as well as sleep deprivation and other health problems. When students are overwhelmed by too much homework, they may become burnt out and lose motivation to learn.

Is ADHD a mental illness? ›

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common mental disorders affecting children. Symptoms of ADHD include inattention (not being able to keep focus), hyperactivity (excess movement that is not fitting to the setting) and impulsivity (hasty acts that occur in the moment without thought).

What are the 7 main mental disorders? ›

Many people also experience stigma, discrimination and violations of human rights.
  • Anxiety Disorders. ...
  • Depression. ...
  • Bipolar Disorder. ...
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) ...
  • Schizophrenia. ...
  • Eating Disorders. ...
  • Disruptive behaviour and dissocial disorders. ...
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders.
Jun 8, 2022

What is the number 1 mental illness? ›

Depression. Impacting an estimated 300 million people, depression is the most-common mental disorder and generally affects women more often than men.

What are the top 10 mental problem? ›

The top 10 mental health issues and illnesses include anxiety disorders, bipolar affective disorders, depression, dissociative disorders, eating disorders, paranoia, PTSD, psychosis, schizophrenia and OCD. One in four adult Americans will have a diagnosable mental disorder at any given time.

What are the 20 types of mental disorders? ›

On this page
  • Anxiety disorders.
  • Behavioural and emotional disorders in children.
  • Bipolar affective disorder.
  • Depression.
  • Dissociation and dissociative disorders.
  • Eating disorders.
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder.
  • Paranoia.

What are the 4 types of mental health? ›

mood disorders (such as depression or bipolar disorder) anxiety disorders. personality disorders. psychotic disorders (such as schizophrenia)

What are three 3 struggles commonly faced by college students? ›

Common Issues
  • Social anxiety, general anxiety, test anxiety, or panic attacks.
  • Family expectations or problems.
  • Depression, lack of energy or motivation, hopelessness, being overwhelmed, low self-esteem, homesickness, loneliness.
  • Relationship difficulties (emotional and physical aspects of intimate relationships)

What are 3 top health issues faced by college students? ›

Stress, anxiety, and depression are not uncommon among college students. Find out more about these topic and campus resources for these concerns.… The common cold, flu, and sore throats are common, yet irritating health issues that are very prevalent across college campuses.

Why students are struggling with mental health? ›

Being away from home, and the stress of separation from family, as well as having to care for themselves in a new setting can be the perfect storm for the development of mental health problems during college.

What are 2 negative effects of stress? ›

Stress that's left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

How does mental health affect teens? ›

Mental health problems in youth often go hand-in-hand with other health and behavioral risks like increased risk of drug use, experiencing violence, and higher risk sexual behaviors that can lead to HIV, STDs, and unintended pregnancy.

What is the main stress for students? ›

You may feel stressed about starting university, exams, coursework deadlines, living with people you do not know, or thinking about the future. Stress is a natural feeling, designed to help you cope in challenging situations.

Why am I so scared of school? ›

Scolionophobia is an overwhelming fear of school. It is not a clinical diagnosis, but it's often a symptom of other anxiety disorders. School refusal is more likely to affect children during times of transition, such as starting middle school or high school.

How do you deal with school stress? ›

What are the Best Techniques to Help Students Manage Stress?
  1. Keeping a journal.
  2. Getting plenty of exercise.
  3. Eating healthy, regular meals.
  4. Making sure you get enough sleep.
  5. Meditating.
  6. Downloading an app that provides relaxation exercises (such as deep breathing or visualization) or tips for practicing mindfulness.
Nov 10, 2022

How does social anxiety affect school? ›

In high school and beyond, students are typically more self-focused and may have harsh negative thoughts about themselves. They may be more likely to mumble or avoid eye contact. These older students often struggle with academics as they are unable to participate fully in class or to engage in group and oral projects.

Can school stress make you feel sick? ›

It's generally recognized that psychological or emotional trauma or activation can cause nausea and vomiting in some people. These symptoms have been reported to occur under highly stressful conditions such as loss of a job, death of a loved one, or anxiety about school or work.

Can I miss school because of anxiety? ›

Skipping classes due to anxiety can be looked at as a valid reason due to the disturbing and uncomforting thoughts and feelings that are associated with it. Anxiety can often stop students from going to school and engaging with other students and school-related activities.

What are 5 common bad stress in a student? ›

Other stressors include being homesick, academic or personal competition, personal pressure to do well, social anxieties, and heavy workloads. Students also feel stress when they get too little sleep, a poor diet and even from having too much downtime.

Which grade has the most stress? ›

And while high school is full of new experiences, many of which can cause students stress, junior year has a reputation as the most stressful of the four years of high school.

How do I get rid of school anxiety? ›

Coping with school anxiety
  1. Talk openly about feelings and mental health. When a child acts out, one of the most helpful things you can do is be curious. ...
  2. Check your priorities. ...
  3. Get help from an expert. ...
  4. Consider a change of environment.
Sep 29, 2022

Can you get PTSD from school? ›

School is a joy for some, OK for some, and a decades-long trauma for others. Some people's school experience is as traumatic as that experienced by people with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Is it normal to be unhappy at school? ›

It's normal for students to feel sad, angry, or moody at times. But when a sad or bad mood lasts for weeks, months, or even longer — and when it affects a student's ability to do well in school and with peers — it might be depression. Depression is not uncommon among students.

Can grades cause depression? ›

Rates of anxiety, depression and even suicidal ideation have spiked dramatically, and academic stress tied to grades is a leading cause of this escalation.

What are the negative effects of academic stress? ›

Excessive stress can cause health difficulties such as fatigue, loss of appetite, headaches, and gastrointestinal issues. Academic stress has been linked to a variety of negative effects, including ill health, anxiety, depression, and poor academic performance.

Should students get mental health days off from school? ›

Did you know that under a 2021 California law, public school students can take up to five days of excused absences for mental health, no questions asked?

Should schools do more for students mental health? ›

Students' mental health impacts many areas of their lives, including their relationships with other people and with drugs and alcohol. If children and teens learn about mental health in school, they will manage better in life.

What are 7 negative effects of stress? ›

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On your bodyOn your moodOn your behavior
Muscle tension or painRestlessnessAngry outbursts
Chest painLack of motivation or focusDrug or alcohol misuse
FatigueFeeling overwhelmedTobacco use
Change in sex driveIrritability or angerSocial withdrawal
3 more rows

What are 5 bad effects of negative stress? ›

Impacts of stress on the body can be manifested as:
  • Headaches.
  • Chest Pain.
  • Fatigue.
  • Muscle tension or pain.
  • Sleep problems.
  • Erectile dysfunction.
  • Upset stomach.

How does school contribute to depression? ›

School is usually not the main cause of depression. However, it can be a factor in causing or increasing teen depression due to the various stressors that occur in school, including bullying, academic pressure, and challenging peer relationships.

What makes a high school bad? ›

“Bad” high schools are typically characterized by poor teaching, a lack of advanced classes, and fewer class options overall. If you go to a “bad” high school, you should discuss your concerns with your guidance counselor or an academic advisor.

Is school good for the brain? ›

Education and lifelong learning help us use our brains to their maximum potential by stirring up our curiosity and intellect, Dr. Lagoy adds. The more you use your brain, the more oxygen it requires, and your body increases blood flow to it to fulfill the higher demand.


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