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Why Are Indian Teens Under Pressure?   

(Indian Students are highly stressed and anxious! Let’s understand the key triggers)

Introduction: India’s young population faces a silent and invisible menace – a mental health crisis.

Once a whispered concern, the issue is gaining critical attention. Students burdened by academic pressure, societal expectations, and a fast-paced world are experiencing a surge in anxiety, depression, and feelings of isolation. 

This hidden crisis of mental health problems among the young population not only impacts their well-being but also threatens to dim the vibrant light of India’s future. It is a crisis demanding immediate action. 

We need to understand the root causes, remove social stigma, and create a support system that empowers our youth to navigate the challenges and emerge mentally stronger. This article explains these issues briefly.

Increasing Suicides in Students: In India, many students face a big problem with mental health. It is a challenging situation. Many of them feel highly stressed and anxious because of school and exams. They worry a lot about doing well and what will happen. This stress can often make them feel very sad or nervous. In Kota, a hub centre for coaching in Rajasthan, we witness how students get badly trapped in a chronically stressed environment. As a result, many Kota students are ending their lives in pursuit of studies.  

Data provided by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) says that 13,089 students died by suicide in 2021 (the year of its latest report on suicides). The share of students among suicide victims in India grew 70% over the past decade, NCRB data shows. These numbers paint a serious picture, highlighting the need to address the mental well-being of our youth.

Factors behind the crisis: Several factors contribute to this crisis. They include intense academic pressure, societal expectations, and limited access to mental health resources. The fast-paced, competitive nature of modern life can take a toll on young minds, leading to feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness. 

Students, particularly those in high school and college, face various triggers that can contribute to mental health problems. While individual experiences may vary, the following are some common triggers that can impact students’ mental well-being:

Academic Pressure

The academic demands that create stress, anxiety and burnout in students’ lives include:

heavy workloads, 

high expectations, pressure to excel and perform well in exams, 

competitive environments, and 

the pursuit of academic success.

These factors can take a toll on students’ mental health.

Transition and Adjustment Challenges: Students often undergo significant transitions, such as transitioning from high school to college or moving to a new educational institution. These transitions can be stressful and disruptive, as students may experience a loss of familiar support systems, encounter new academic and social environments, and struggle with adapting to changes. The adjustment period can trigger feelings of anxiety, homesickness, and overwhelm.

Social Pressures and Relationships: Nowadays, social pressures, such as the need to establish new friendships and maintain existing relationships, can impact students’ mental health. Such pressures did not exist earlier. Social cohesiveness was prevalent in our Indian culture, but that system was gradually dismantled. The following triggers can contribute to increasing incidents of stress, anxiety, and feelings of inadequacy among students.  

Peer pressure, 

Social comparisons, 

Fear of rejection or isolation, and 

Conflicts within relationships.

Financial Burden: Financial stress is a significant trigger for mental health problems among students. Balancing educational expenses, living costs, and part-time jobs can create financial strains. Students may need help with loan repayments and debt accumulation. Their inability to afford necessities can negatively impact their mental well-being.

With the rise of AI in recent times, job uncertainties are increasing. Young people are not sure of the continuity of their jobs. Jobs are being replaced with new avenues opening, but many of them are unprepared for these challenges. So, they want to save money for such an eventuality. As a result, financial pressures are rising.  

Sleep Disruptions: Irregular sleep patterns, insufficient sleep, or disrupted sleep due to academic workloads and digital distractions can lead to sleep deprivation. The younger generation often sleeps late without adhering to regular sleep timings. Lack of proper rest affects cognitive functions. Students have trouble concentrating, which affects their studies. As a result, their overall mental health gets impacted in the long run.

Isolation and Loneliness: India’s student population faces a growing social isolation and loneliness concern. A lack of social connection or difficulty establishing meaningful relationships can contribute to feelings of loneliness and negatively impact mental well-being. 

Academic pressure, intense focus on exams, and limited opportunities for social connection can leave students feeling disconnected and alone. Social media can further amplify this isolation, which often portrays an unrealistic picture of social interaction. 

The pressure to succeed and a lack of real-life connections can harm students’ mental well-being, highlighting the need for creating supportive environments that encourage open communication and healthy social interaction.

Substance Abuse and Addiction: Substance abuse, including alcohol and drug misuse, can exacerbate mental health problems among students. More and more students are taking self-medication and experimentation courses because of increased awareness and internet usage. 

Thanks to social media and WhatsApp groups, everyone is now becoming an expert. A tremendous amount of information is shared on these platforms. Besides, peer influence, or coping with stress through substances, can lead to addiction cases and worsen mental health issues.

Perfectionism and Self-Criticism: High perfectionism and self-critical tendencies can pressure students significantly. We all project better versions of ourselves on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. This is also known as ‘fake prolificity’, which was coined recently. People tend to hide certain information to seek more attention from others while highlighting a better side of themselves. Fake profiles are created. Striving for near-perfect standards, fear of failure, and harsh self-evaluation can contribute to anxiety and low self-esteem.

Conclusion: We all have unique experiences with varying degrees of vulnerabilities. There can be multiple triggers that can affect our mental health. We can, however, support students’ mental well-being by way of:

  • Creating a supportive environment.
  • Promoting open dialogue.
  • Providing access to mental health resources.
  • Addressing systemic factors that contribute to these triggers.

The issue of mental health in the student community requires a collective effort from families, schools, and society at large to nurture a supportive and open environment where young people can seek help, feel heard, and prioritize their mental well-being.

To read more on mental health, visit the blog on Mind Therapy