The school system and my anxiety

By Christevie

Mon, Oct 05, 20

A London college student poetically reflects on how the education system put much more than her knowledge to the test.

Growing numbers of young people in the UK are seeking help for their mental health. Research shows that in the UK, 20% of adolescents may experience a mental health problem in any given year. Meanwhile, 50% of mental health problems are established by age 14 and 75% by age 24. We believe our education system can do better to support student mental health and wellbeing, and in order to enact effective and sustainable change, we need to hear young people’s voices.

Today we hear from Woodhouse College student Christevie, who is co-leading the working group for Breaking The Silence, our youth-led research project exploring the impact of the UK Education system on young people’s mental health and identity. She candidly shares her experience of school and the culture of high-stakes exams in the following poem.

The alarm rings, buzzes and beeps. Thinking about last night and how I cried myself to sleep.

Worrying, panicking and stressing about the day, and how I’m going to act so no one knows that I’m not okay.

Through my shower, breakfast and journey what you’ll find, there is always something in the back of mind

I’m contemplating what will happen if I fail, probably something dramatic like going to jail.

As you can tell from the joke that just past, I humour myself in order to last.

However, nothing stops the thought of exams, wondering if it is all just a scam

One thought turns to two and two to three, here comes a wave of anxiety.

The thoughts crash and slam in my brain, I begin to think that I’m going insane.

I don’t understand how this is humane, the pain I feel because of what they say i’ll gain.

I know that the exams are putting a strain, but unfortunately the stress must remain

My fingers start to tingle and feel numb, I already know what this is going to become.

My chest feels tight and my throat feels dry, I know that I’m in public so I cannot cry.

I swear it feels like I’m going to die, all of this because my well being is put on standby.

I find a place where I can isolate, as I can’t let anyone see me in this state.

My legs start to wither, this goes on for what feels like forever. Unable to believe that is something I have to endeavour.

I integrate myself back into society with a smile. constantly thinking if the stress is worthwhile

No one notices the anxiety feel, It is something that I try hard to conceal.

People only begin to realise once the grades start slipping, but my mental well being is what they are skipping.

I go home drained from the day, praying for my struggles to go away.

I then cry myself to sleep And wake up for the day to repeat.

We are currently working with UCL Institute of Education to further develop Christevie and her peers’ research. Watch this space as we share more about our findings in the coming weeks.