Does the Anxiety and Stress of High/Middle School Students Really Compare to that of 1950’s Asylum Patients?

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Daniella Rodriguez

A calming picture of cherry blossoms containing a quote about earth, nature, and stress. “Stress is basically a disconnection from earth, a forgetting of the breath. Nothing is that important. Just lie down.” -Natalie Goldberg. This quote specifically applies to Kaylani Morale’s way of coping with stress.

A study has once compared the anxiety of high school students and asylum patients from the 1950s. Asylum patients were tested for something called trait anxiety, and the scores of the students did not differentiate very much from those of the asylum patients. Later on it the years, a great change in the number of patients changed as there was less crime and threats of war. Which means that while it is possible to compare that to the experience of students, it is a bit of a long shot. Which brings up the question: Is this just an exaggeration? The only way to find out is to collect evidence, and since UP is known to the outside world to be a difficult school, there are plenty of examples and experiences to choose from. Things like group projects, essays, exams, and finals are all pieces of work that have stressed the student’s of UP out at least once. Many students suffer from the pain and stress of multiple difficult assignments daily. So the study could prove to be completely true, and that’s a problem. However, there is a possibility that this claim does not apply to all students.

8th grader America Cisneros shares an unexpected response, she claims to not stress out about remotely anything. “I don’t really stress out that much, only when there are projects.” So when there are projects, how does Cisneros cope with this tiny pinch of stress? “I like to go outside and walk around, and I also like to listen to music.” So does being a student at University Preparatory influence these minimal stress levels? “No, I feel like being in middle school, in general, is pretty easy.”

8th grader Dalia Cruz, on the other hand, has indeed been stressed out. That being said, there is a definite time when she was stressed out the most. “Like with finals because your grades are either going to drop or it will go up.” So what keeps her stress and anxiety at bay when it gets to the point where it is too much? “I take a moment and think about better things.” Being at UP is definitely no cakewalk, needing to maintain good grades and keep up your GPA is another task on its own. So does it affect Cruz’s overall stress levels? “Sometimes it does, and yes the GPA requirement does worry me sometimes.”

Daniella Rodriguez
An illustration reminding you to occasionally take a break from your stressful life.

Senior Kaylani Morale doesn’t let stress grab hold of her. “I don’t really let myself stress over school. For certain projects and stuff like that, yeah, but I don’t really let the stress get to me that much.” So what about finals? “To a certain extent, but I’m going to get what I’m going to get at the end of the day.” Even though Morale stays strong throughout the whole school year, she has her moments as does everyone. When she does deal with a tiny bit of stress, she enjoys taking a break. “I just stop doing what I’m doing and basically take a rest and go to sleep.” Morale doesn’t exactly believe being a student at UP really changes stress levels, but she doesn’t exactly feel as though they help the cause. “Higher than other schools yeah [the stress levels], but every school is going to have its own area of stress that’s going to make it hard.”

Two of the three people surveyed don’t exactly find being a high school or middle school student, particularly at UP, to be a very stressful experience. The one person that did find it stressful, Dalia Cruz, didn’t find the stress to be constant. However, all three can agree that finals are not a force to take lightly. This certainly proves that the research about the stress and anxiety levels of high school and or middle school students is not essentially close to being compared with those of asylum patients from the 1950s. At least, we can say about the students of UP.