The pressure is on: how academic stress is killing our young people

When did the pressure start getting to you? College? Secondary school? Primary school even? And no, I don’t mean the type of pressure you felt because you didn’t know what to wear for your best friend’s birthday dinner. Well, you did want to get a good picture of course to put up on your Instagram, especially because you haven’t posted a picture for a while now. But honestly, when did you ever feel a bit too “overwhelmed” with everything.

For me, I would say I really started to feel a lot of pressure when I started my A-Levels. My sixth form made me feel like if I didn’t do well I would never go to university and I would never get a great job. So, once I would get a grade that was considered “rubbish” or unacceptable, my whole world came crashing down. I know I can be dramatic at times but trust me I weren’t the only one who felt this way. In a recent interview conducted by the Independent, they revealed that students felt a “constant pressure to reach impossible standards leaving them feeling demoralised and disillusioned”[1]. Being a young adult or even a child in this society can make many of feel overwhelmed. The nervous breakdowns, panic attacks, burnouts, depression, which all come down to the academic stress we are facing.

It could feel like no matter what you do or how often you are in the library revising there is still no show for this in your grades. Yes, I know this all too well, I was there before. For many of us, we not only had or still have the pressure of our schools, but there is also a sense of letting your family down if you don’t do well. I remember getting my A-Level results and crying a river (literally) because I didn’t get the grades to go to my first-choice university. I had one job to get the grades I needed to go to the university I wanted. Oh…and did I mention it was a Russel Group university.  In my head, I had failed. Even though I had spent hours upon hours in the library studying and preparing for my upcoming exams, it felt as if nothing was good enough. As I get older, it makes it easier for me to reflect and look back at certain periods in my life. Now, many people who know me well, know that I am an incredibly chilled and laid-back person. Dramatic, yeah sometimes. But all round I do not like stress very well.

However, when I look back now it was evident that myself, my peers and a lot of my friends around me was stressing over nothing at all. Yes, we want to do well in school, but as young as we were “stress” is something we should not be dealing with. It was reported in a poll carried out by the National Education Union that “mental health issues have led to pupils killing themselves or attempting suicide”. When asked what the contribution was “more than 81 per cent said testing and exams and 67 percent cited school pressure”[2]. The main concern for for many students who are faced with these challenges are, how can we help and turn things around? Although academic success is important, driving young adults to a point of depression and stress is not the goal.

How can we change this?

Yes you want to do well, we all do – but when you feel yourself getting to the point where your it is a bit too much that is when you need a time out. these are some points that can help you throughout academic pressures.

  • Write down in a journal how you are feeling
  • Discuss with your teachers and/or a loved one
  • Listen to calming music
  • Meditate
  • Do something that will make you laugh
  • Read
  • Watch a good old movie (that always helps me)


tiff xoxo




[1] Pupils self-harm and express suicidal feelings due to exam stress and school pressure, warns teachers. Avaliable at: [Accessed on 02/12/2018]

[2] Pupils self-harm and express suicidal feelings due to exam stress and school pressure, warns teachers. Avaliable at: [Accessed on 02/12/2018]

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