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How to Support Students Facing Academic Pressure & Stress

Written by: Alyssa Kiss, M.A.
How to Support Students Facing Academic Pressure & Stress

As we approach the fall, school begins picking up and the weight of different responsibilities can begin to feel overwhelming. Many of our students deal with high levels of school anxiety and academic stress. They are being asked to juggle college level classes, extracurricular activities, sports, clubs, and full social lives. All these things combined can increase anxiety disorders and depression in middle and high school students. This blog will seek to provide helpful information on warning signs of anxiety and depression in your students and ways to help address academic stress.

Do you notice your student feeling overly stressed when completing homework? Has your child begun to feel resistant to going to school? Have you heard your teen say something like “If I don’t ace this test, my whole life is over”? These are very real and common experiences for many middle and high school students today. They are experiencing overwhelming stress and pressure to perform academically which can lead to anxiety, depression, school avoidance, and self-esteem issues. A lot of students are feeling this pressure from within themselves even though they know their parents or teachers would be okay if they didn’t perform perfectly on the next test or assignment.

So how do you know your student is experiencing this? It may be challenging to distinguish between normal jitters before a big project and a developing mental health issue. Here are just a few signs that there might be something more to your child’s stress:

  1. Your student lacks interest in things they once really enjoyed
  2. Your student is more withdrawn and quieter than they usually are
  3. Your student is having trouble falling asleep or is sleeping more than usual
  4. Your student is having anxiety or panic attacks while at school
  5. Your student begins to avoid school, say they’re sick frequently, and have more absences
  6. Your student is less interested in making or keeping friends
  7. Your student is having more trouble concentrating on and completing assignments

So, what can you do to help your student reduce their anxiety and thrive in school? The first step to helping a child facing academic anxiety is through acknowledging and discussing their feelings with them. Providing an open space for your student to express their experience and validating the stress they are under can make a huge difference. Sometimes students don’t feel like the adults in their lives understand them or what they are going through. Take some time to reflect on your own experience of middle and high school. Use those memories to build empathy and understanding for your child’s current situation.

Additionally, talking to the school your child attends about how to help support your student can be a great way to address any logistical issues that are adding or creating anxiety and pressure. Sometimes dropping advanced classes or receiving academic accommodations can be tangible ways of advocating for your child.

Another great way to help your child is through individual or group therapy. The Summit is partnered with public and private schools in Fulton, Gwinnett, and Dekalb Counties to offer therapy to students while they are at school. We address issues such as school stress, school avoidance, anxiety, depression, and much more. If you are interested in learning more about these services, please give us a call or visit the School-Based Mental Health tab on our website.