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Mental health takes the back burner in OHS’s finals season

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image of rows of missing assignments

The end of the school year has been steadily approaching, and in our final weeks, exams are  underway. The biggest test for most students’ high school careers, the SAT, has passed, and students have finally gotten results after a long and stressful road of preparing for the exam. With students’ futures balancing on the weight of one exam, the current school system has led to a clear path of stress and mental health issues for students.

Feelings of panic and anxiety are not foreign to today’s high schoolers, due to skyrocketing tuition prices like the 179.2% rise in tuition over the past 20 years for public 4-year institutions. Along with the increasingly competitive stage for scholarships, most students truly cannot afford to do bad on these heavy-hitting exams. Although many colleges have reversed their required submission of SAT scores, including SAT scores can only help to boost chances as long as they are within the school’s range of criteria

By putting such a high standard on what is acceptable from today’s students, many have turned to drastic measures. The more students stress over exams, the more pressure they feel to be over prepared or simply ignore health in order to have extra time to study. The rare occasion of losing sleep for school has grown into a culture of massive sleep deprivation.

Past surveys have shown that students of OHS are majorly sleep-deprived. 42Fifty took a poll of over 60 students, revealing that the majority of students sleep fewer than five hours per night.  While skipping out on sleep allows for extra time to study, some students are not getting a lack of sleep for only short periods of time, but instead are dealing with chronic sleep deprivation. 

Getting less than five hours of sleep a night almost every night is a situation  many students at OHS find themselves in today. Losing sleep leads to decreased mental processing and a higher risk of anxiety, which is the main enabler in the current cycle of sleep deprivation. By losing sleep, students lose their test-taking ability and increase forgetfulness, meaning much of the information gained during late-night studying is lost. 

Exams coming up have left students feeling as though they have run out of time to prepare or perform well. In my experience over the upcoming AP exams, I’ve felt stress towards attempting to prepare for exams while also trying to keep up with the current end-of-year assignments. Many students are in the same position as I am:,juggling work, school, and keeping up with health is a large burden to carry, but one that many juniors and seniors can relate to. 

By putting more focus on grades and assessments students have, while ignoring the stress that many students endure, the school has left many of its students in the dust. Although there are some things the school has done, such as putting up posters of the virtual calming room, the outreach made by the school in order to better student health is minimal at best. Without more support from the school to help students suffering with anxiety during this testing season, the student population will continue to experience unhealthy amounts of stress at the end of the year.

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