World Mental Health Day 2022: NCERT survey shows 81% school students anxious about studies and exam results

Flagging it as a “concerning trend”, a national mental health survey conducted by the Centre has found that an overwhelming majority of students at the middle and high school levels are anxious about academic activities.

The findings of the survey, based on responses of nearly 3.8 lakh students across the country, have also identified “frequent mood swings” as an area of concern across grades, gender and types of schools.

As many as 81 per cent of the respondents reported academics as their cause of anxiety. Among this cohort, 49 per cent identified studies as the major trigger, followed by examinations and results (28 per cent).

“Though slight gender differences are evident among genders, girls (50 per cent) were slightly more anxious than boys (47 per cent) about their studies. The social status accorded to doing well in academics creates anxiety in students to perform well. Hence, studies in itself is viewed as an important factor,” according to the report listing the findings of the survey carried out between January and March this year.

The survey findings indicate that a wide range of issues ranging from academics, personal independence, social interactions, to peer relationships, career concerns and subject specialisations have a bearing on the mental wellbeing of students.

The report shows that happiness was the “most commonly experienced emotions among students, which saw a decline upon moving to the higher grades. “Just a little above 50 per cent of students expressed being perceived as happy by the people in their life”.

Majority of the respondents of the survey were satisfied with their school life.

It also suggested that secondary-stage students had a “relatively lesser social support” to “discuss their feelings” owing to the “major developmental changes” during the transition from middle to secondary stages.

This includes, “advances in cognitive capacities and strategies, self-reflective skills, self-regulation abilities, reasoning, logical thinking, perspective-taking, and expanded socialisation”.

Respondents who identified as the third gender exhibited “low confidence in physical appearance and in trusting others” due to the absence of a “support system.”

Even though the survey findings varied across different school types, most of the respondents “were satisfied with their school life”. Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya displayed the highest satisfaction in this regard. While the students from Kendriya Vidyalaya were “confident about their physical appearance”, students from private schools reported a “lack of confidence about their body appearances”.

Body image, mood swings, lack of social interaction, mental health Body image, mood swings, lack of social interaction and more are several reasons why school students suffer from bad mental health.

Students claimed that confiding in their friends and family, and practicing yoga and meditation, were amongst the most effective “coping strategies.”

To support students’ holistic development, the integration of emotional literacy into the curriculum, the use of “assessment and appraisal” for all school activities, and nurturing of an “environment of care and trust” was recommended in the report.

The Manodarpan Cell along with the Department of Educational Psychology, and Foundations of Education, NCERT conducted a survey across different schools throughout the country to explore the perception of students with regard to their mental health, at the middle (grades 6-8) and secondary stages (9-12) of education.

The evaluation of student’s mental health was based on their “perception of: (i) their own selves, (ii) self, as viewed in the social context, (iii) satisfaction with life (personal and school), (iv) emotions experienced, (v) fears and challenges and (vi) strategies for coping and managing their emotions.”

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