A+ or Anxiety-Plus?
Good grades are no longer all that is expected of a student who wants to attend college. They now need to not just maintain a high GPA, but also test well above average on standardized tests, participate in clubs and sports, be a leader in their school, volunteer in the community and have a part-time job.
Studies report that 75 percent of high schoolers report “often or always feeling stressed” about school and more than 60 percent claim to being “often or always worried” about college admission.
In addition to the immense pressure to succeed, teenagers are also trying to navigate friendships, first loves, and the drama that so often comes with high school, which can affect their mental health.
It’s important for parents to be able to recognize the signs of an overworked and stressed-out teen. Depression and anxiety will manifest in different ways for different people, but common symptoms include:
- Emotional changes such as sadness, irritability and anger, low self-esteem, extreme sensitivity, problems concentrating, inability to relax or overthinking.
- Behavioral issues such as extreme tiredness, insomnia, changes in appetite, muscle tension, nausea, alcohol and drug use, lack of interest in friends and activities, self-harm, or changes in appearance.
Some students may also have what is frequently referred to as test anxiety. While it’s normal to feel a little nervous before a big test, students who suffer from test anxiety feel often debilitating self-doubt that affects test performance.
If you have noticed that your teen appears to suffer from test anxiety, talk to him or her about incorporating the following coping methods into their routine:
- Learn more efficient ways to study
- Start studying early
- Establish a routine before each test: eat the same breakfast, get to school early, use the same pencil, etc.
- Practice deep breathing exercises or other relaxation techniques
If you are worried about your child’s mental health, the first—and possibly most important—thing for you to do is to simply have a conversation with him or her.
Other options include:
- Speaking with your child’s teachers, coaches, and guidance counselors to get a better understanding of the workload he or she is managing
- Set up an appointment for your child to speak with a psychologist or therapist
Still need help? Talking to a licensed professional therapist is the best way to understand the mental strain that your child is going through. Get help when you need it right from your phone or tablet – visit www.simplerpsych.com for more information. Your care, anywhere.