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Students Address Mental Burnout

Close your eyes and picture a candle. It has a beautiful bright flame that seems like it could burn forever, so it just keeps on burning. Over time, the candle runs out of wax, the wick burns away, and the flame begins to dwindle, eventually dying out. The candle has used up all of the resources it needs to burn. Now, no matter how many times you try to light it, the flame will not come back.  


Just like this candle no longer has the means to burn, people who overextend themselves no longer have the mental capacity or energy to get through the tasks they need to. This is referred to as mental burnout.  


Mental burnout is not currently categorized as a mental illness or mental disorder. Instead, it is recognized by the World Health Organization as “an important occupational phenomenon under the category of “factors influencing health status or contact with health services” in the ICD-11 [103]”, according to the National Library of Medicine. Burnout is a commonly occurring mental issue in high school students, especially in recent years as adolescent mental health declines.


It has been proven by multiple studies that high school and college-aged students are the most likely groups to suffer from some type of mental exhaustion. “High school has more drama and outside life becomes more complex,” NHS sophomore Sarea DeMatteo said. This statement is true for almost all high school students. Not only does the workload and difficulty of work increase in high school, but the complications of outside life increase as well. Outside drama, relationships, and extracurriculars can make schoolwork and homework feel even more daunting.


Additionally, the idea of keeping up good grades for colleges and the future is something that hangs over many students’ heads constantly. “There’s just more focus on grades than actual understanding,” NHS sophomore Serena Genna said.  Many students get very overwhelmed with keeping up with their workload and keeping up their grades, especially when they run out of, or lack, motivation. “If you do bad on a chapter test for example, it just feels like ‘why would I go back to this?’ There’s always something coming up next that you have to focus on,” DeMatteo said. It seems that there is a common loss of motivation among high school students, and at a certain point, students do their work just to get it done.  


However, unlike the candle in the first paragraph, students always do have the ability to regain their spark and motivation. One simple way that students can recover from feeling burnt out is to place less emphasis on their grades. For some this may seem easy, and for some it may seem difficult. Either way, just making an effort to learn and enjoy the actual content of your classes is the first step to de-stressing and feeling more motivated. “In elementary school, you didn’t have to do anything but try your best. I was always happy with how I was doing,” NHS sophomore Gabriella Meir said. High school can be more like this for students as well, and it should be.


Of course caring about schoolwork and grades is incredibly important for students, but prioritizing their mental health so that they can keep up with school in a healthy way is just as important. According to Psychology Today, “There is no ‘one size fits all’ high school academic schedule.”  A student who feels burdened or burnt out in any way has to make sure they are taking on high school in a way that suits them, and prioritizing themselves along the way.