Monday, 17 October 2016

Why The Education System Is Ruining My Mental Health

I am not a robot. I am a human, and I have a life. Although sometimes it's a life I don't always want, it's my life nonetheless, and I treasure it enormously. But college, school and the education system, in general, seem to ignore the fact that I am a human just like them and have a life full of my own struggles and interests outside of insane amount of work, textbooks and exams.

My mental health and general wellbeing have been battered and kicked about for the 13 years I have been in education, and I have no doubts that are not going to end anytime soon. Because hey I don't care if your suffering with moderate to serve depression, OCD and health anxiety don't forget you have a recap test every lesson about what we learnt in the last lesson and when I say what we did last lesson I mean what I made you do as homework, which I'm not going to go through in class because hey I can't be bothered. 

Oh, your struggling? Come to extra lessons on a Wednesday for more work. Oh and don't forget we want you to do five hours further study per subject per week. You also have to come to an enrichment club every Wednesday afternoon just because we know that's what uni loves. Talking of uni; tell me what you want to do in 10 years because hey I don't care if you have a mental illness and sometimes you don't want to be on this planet at all, we are going to shove uni down your throat till you give in. 

You been to any uni open days yet? Written your personal statement? Done any work experience? Got a job? Don't forget you have a target for your A level results which you should always be achieving for if not more. What about hobbies outside of college? Don't forget you need eight hours of sleep and at least an hour of exercise per day. 

Fuck me! There aren't enough hours in the bloody day anymore! 

You might get the impression that by what I have just written is that I don't make use of the three or so frees I have a day. That I don't do any work in the evenings, weekends or holidays. Well, you couldn't be more wrong. I work in every free I get and in the evening after college every day. I do college work every weekend, even if I'm busy I will still find time to squeeze it in. I work every day of the holidays. 

I'm still drowning. 

Why on earth am I drowning if I am putting in so much effort? It's simple really! These constant tests, tests after tests don't do anything but damage. They put a significant amount of pressure on individuals to be consistent with their scores. You don't want to fail, get a low grade because you're threatened with the punishment of being kicked off the course or made to retake the test even if your struggling. And when I say struggling I don't mean with the work but just with life in general. 

So what do you do not to make that happen? You have to work day in day out to make sure you have remembered everything perfectly so you can get that A. When the concept of working for 45 minutes and having a 15 minute break is a dream because the clock is ticking faster than it has ever done before and by God, I still have another 10 words to learn, and I haven't moved in three hours. 

But your not just doing one subject oh no, your doing at least three, maybe even four or five. You spend a long time on one subject because you don't want to fail in that one, which subsequently means the rest of the subjects get pushed to one side. Don't just assume that the teachers are on mute there too, oh God no they're setting you essays due in first thing the next morning. And bloody hell, I can't keep up anymore! 

When I leave those classroom walls, when I go home for the day, my life isn't plain sailing. I don't go home to a beautifully clean desk with all my rainbow coloured pens out in order. Life is messy. But teachers don't seem to recognise that; they put these unrealistic expectations on us that be too honest are a load of BS, if you ask me. I'm sorry I didn't get an A in that test, for the stuff we only learnt a couple of days ago and you expect me to just be able to put a pause on time while I sit there and learn it because it's not like I have anything else to do is it?

I suffer from a range of mental health problems. No, I don't want sympathy, I just want support. And no I don't mean offering me more lessons to go to because Christ oh mighty do you just not see the point I am trying to get at here? I have learnt a lot in the last month or so of starting college and no not just academic stuff but a lot about myself and what I'm capable of. 

I don't care what the education system expects or thinks I should be doing. I know me better than anyone else, and therefore, I will do my bit to look after myself and my mental health. As my mental health and wellbeing comes before any irrelevant recap test score. Firstly, I won't think about what I want to do when I leave because you can never put a stop to learning. I may not know what I want to do and that's completely okay because I want to focus on doing the best I can in the present which will open more doors in the future instead of wasting hours of my day stressing about what uni I'm going to go to and what profession I want to go into. 

Don't you find it ironic that most of the teachers put pressure on you to know exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life when I bet 90% of them never wanted to end up as teachers in the first place? Learning is so important but so is LIVING. I'm not going to waste valuable hours in my young life, missing out on opportunities because I have to be stuck indoors with my head in a textbook.

Don't get me wrong I love my subjects and enjoy studying them. But it's all about balance. I don't believe in this five hours extra study per week per subject crap. I will do what I have time for and what my mental and physical health will allow me to do. I'm going, to be honest, it's still going to be a lot of work because I do want to achieve. But I want to achieve for myself. So I can say despite the odds, I pulled through, and I did the best I could. Not so I can be added to the college's success rates as another statistic. 

I would love to know your opinions on the matter in the comments below.

Thanks for reading, as always X


  1. I know exactly how you feel Nicole! Due to the disability/chronic pain condition I suffer from as well as having anxiety I feel that the education system don't take into consideration how education is affecting my health. You're post couldn't have come at a better time as I can completely relate to how you're feeling as at the present moment I am struggling big time with the pressures and expectations related to education and it's affecting how I can cope with everything else. I know of many other people who have been off school ill due to pressure and I really think it's beginning to get out of control. But sadly, it often feels like the powers at be really don't care; as long as everyone's getting high grades and ticking the necessary boxes, they really aren't too interested. It's sadly all about statistics! In my opinion, everyone's health and happiness is first and foremost; everything else comes second and teachers, the education system and all other related parties need to learn this.
    Please know that I'm thinking about you Nicole and always put yourself/health & happiness first!
    Take care, Robyn xx

    1. aw Robyn, I'm sorry to hear you have had the same experiences as me! Luckily, I have really understanding teachers, it's just the education system as a whole isn't perfect! Far from it! Take care xx

  2. I understand completely. Your health definitely comes first! The workload is huge and the education system isn't getting any better. I've written a couple of posts on a similar topic to this; it's something that I feel very passionately about.

    Anna. X

    1. I will be checking them out for sure, thank you Anna xx

  3. I understand this so much!!! My anxiety hasn't been as bad in my life time until college it's a daily struggle and it got to a point where i couldn't take it anymore I had to take a break. I am doing better but I still struggle and every time it is similar things you mention that make it all worse. Your post always inspire me thank you for sharing. :)

    - Celeste

    1. oh, I'm sorry to hear that you have been through rough times during college, take care of yourself babe x

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