Opinion: Unreasonable Workload, Insufficient Time

Stress has a serious effect on students' mental health


Matt Bice

Students Sydney Brown and Paige Snider work on homework.

As a student, I am overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work thrown onto me. I spend at least seven hours a week on homework, not including studying time. Although I may be in many advanced classes, the workload in all classes is excessive.

On Sept. 30th, I spent six hours at a coffee shop with friends and saw many other high school students working on homework for hours upon hours. The environment was filled with the stress of projects and essays.

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The stress on students comes directly from the humongous amount of homework given to students that they are unable to balance with their already busy lives. Students have a life outside of school. They have extracurriculars and club sports, and for many students, jobs.

Many teachers spread the irony of encouraging you to join extracurriculars, while also throwing mass amounts of homework on you–not giving you time for any activities other than that class.

The push for extracurriculars while also expecting students to maintain a 4.0 GPA is absurd in context. Wanting students to do all of this and still maintain a healthy lifestyle is purely inhumane. The stress of not having time affects students vastly.

Students’ mental health is greatly influenced by the amount of stress in their lives. The way your brain adapts to stress and changes the reward pathways may “predispose or unmask a vulnerability to psychiatric disorders, substance use disorders, or both,” according to the American Journal of Psychiatry. We are not doing what we can to prevent children from obtaining lifelong problems that are difficult to recover from.

The way your brain adapts to stress and changes the reward pathways may “predispose or unmask a vulnerability to psychiatric disorders, substance use disorders, or both.”

— American Psychiatric Association

Adolescent brains are still developing and are in their most crucial stage of development. The brain is creating those reward pathways entirely from scratch and if it creates them while under chronic stress it can lead to vulnerability to disorders such as depression, generalized anxiety disorder, or substance abuse.

If a student suffers from depression, one of the core symptoms is low motivation. Having low motivation negatively impacts school performance as the student often does little school work as a result of their low motivation. This only leads to more stress, which in turn damages mental health even more.

But what can we do about all this? It’s an issue, but it can’ be fixed. Progressive  countries such as Finland abolished homework entirely and saw great improvements in performance.

Finland had a dropout rate of below 1%, however the U.S. had a dropout rate of almost 6.1% in 2016. We push kids to their limits instead of allowing them to grow and prosper and achieve more tangible work. We need to strive to build an education system that leaves no kid behind and one that abolishes homework out of its best interests for students.

One must advocate for kids education and their health. Adolescents are the future of our country and world so we must invest in what is best for their future. Our future is only as bright as we invest into it.