Ready to hear something bonkers?
Research by Feldman, et al., (2008) found that when guys and gals are stressed out at uni, spending time with their mates helped them to relax them which lead to better academic success...
Oh, wait, that kinda makes sense ...
& isn't that what we all already knew?
You could be forgiven for thinking that this must have been groundbreaking research because why else would anyone spend the time or money investigating something?
Here's the thing.
Many studies are conducted, not because someone has a bright idea about how they want to change things, they usually need to produce a piece of research to qualify...
Call me a cynic but I personally believe that most psychological research is designed to test whether common knowledge can be quantified scientifically not to change things.
While this leaves many studies lacking in their excitement, it can at least help us understand whether we we're on the right track with what were are doing.
I just want to think about that a little more for a second if I may.
We know that socialising helps reduce stress, particularly in teenagers and young adults, and we also know that a reduced level of stress increases academic performance.
So why is it that we fight against this by having the school day structured in such a way that students spend the majority of their time isolated?
Yes, they can catch up at breaks/lunch, but let's think about this logically.
If being surrounded by people you like helps you achieve more, shouldn't we, in fact, be encouraging students to work together a lot more than we currently do?
If you're not sure how you can facilitate this in your classroom check out my previous post 3 tricks to easily improve concentration in class where you'll find a few ideas (don't let the title fool you!).
Anyway back to the point of this post.
There's a whole host of research showing that mental illness negatively affects a student's academic performance (VanderLind, R. 2017).
In fact, when you look at how stress, depression & anxiety manifest (namely interrupting someones ability to think, process information, carry out memory retrieval and implant new memories into the long-term memory store) it's a no-brainer.
I mean, no one can revise for and be expected to retain the information then regurgitate it on demand if they are struggling to get anything to sink in.
& if that wasn't enough of a problem...
Even though we know about the causes of mental illness and how it affects the brain, year on year, the number of students who are struggling increases (Eisenberg, Gollust, Golberstein, & Hefner, 2007; Gallagher 2014).
Furthermore, we also know that there are certain factors which increase the likelihood of developing a mental illness; gender (female), ethnicity (minority) and the academic year (the earlier the school year, the higher the risk of mental illness) (Wyatt, T. J., Oswalt, S. B., & Ochoa, Y., 2017).
So why has nothing changed?
Why is it getting worse, not better?
& for Pete's sake what does all this mean for the kids?
Basically, our kids are screwed.
OK, so it's not quite as dire as that.
We just need to change the way in which we 'do education'.
We need to break out of the old, outdated mode of standing at the front of a room and throwing irrelevant information at kids and instead have them working in teams to find the answers.
If you asked me anything, I could give you an answer in seconds.
OK, so Google would be the one doing all the hard work, I'm just the one passing it on.
But this is how our young people live.
They have a question, they instantly have an answer.
They don't need someone to dissect complicated theories, computations or texts - chances are there's someone on YouTube who has already done it (& more than likely have a really simple way of explaining it).
We as adults truly need to embrace the information age.
We need to utilise the skills of our kids.
We need to stop them from being bored.
We need to empower them to use that wealth of knowledge at their fingertips.
& most importantly we need to show them how to use this information safely.
If we focused on fact-checking and disseminating whether a source was to be trusted, you'd be able to very quickly stop the spread of 'fake news' and even combat some potential radicalisation.
Look, I get it.
You're probably sat there thinking, what the heck is this girl on?
& hey, you are absolutely entitled to your opinion but let's be honest - deep down you're thinking the very same thing too.
For what its worth, if you truly want to reduce the effects of mental illness on your pupils then you'll need to roll back the amount of information you throw at them in class, beef up the team/group activities and encourage them to find out the answers.
& if you're not sure where to start, use the button below to head over to the website and find out how I can help:-
Have a great weekend & I'll be back here Monday talking about how mental health care has changed.
See you then x Katie x
p.s., if you've found this useful don't forget to hit the share buttons and pass it onto someone else who needs it. After all, sharing is caring ;)
Eisenberg, D., Gollust, S. E., Golberstein, E., & Hefner, J. L. (2007). Prevalence and correlates of depression, anxiety, and suicidality among university students. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 77, 534-542.https://doi.org/10.1037/0002-94126.96.36.1994
Gallagher, R. P. (2014). National Survey of College Counseling Centers. Retrieved from http://www.collegecounseling.org/wp-content/uploads/NCCCS2014_v2.pdf
LYA FELDMAN, LILA GONCALVES, GRACE CHACÓN-PUIGNAU, JOANMIR ZARAGOZA, NURI BAGÉS, & JOAN DE PABLO. (2008). Relationships between Academic Stress, Social Support, Mental Health and Academic Performance in Venezuelan University Students. Universitas Psychologica, Vol 7, Iss 3, Pp 739-751 (2008), (3), 739. Retrieved from https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsdoj&AN=edsdoj.b9b091ecddb54b38b32c4ae089a1baef&site=eds-live
VanderLind, R. (2017). Effects of Mental Health on Student Learning. Learning Assistance Review, 22(2), 39–58. Retrieved from https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ1154566&site=eds-live
Wyatt, T. J., Oswalt, S. B., & Ochoa, Y. (2017). Mental Health and Academic Performance of First-Year College Students. International Journal of Higher Education, 6(3), 178–187. Retrieved from https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ1146574&site=eds-live