Effects of studies overburden and mental health

Sultana Nageen

If we take into account the word “overburden”, it means to load someone with excessive work or strain. Normally every individual deals with workload with his/her own capacity but if it exceeds above their limit or capacity that the person gets exhausted during this time period then it’s termed  as overburden. Likewise we may define overburden of studies as to overload a school, college or university going student with heavy academics burdens like home tasks /assignments, presentations, multiple exams etc., which pose great impact on their intellectual functioning and leads to negative consequences like Depression, stress etc.

According to Broman & Clifford (June 2005),  “Life transitions, such as moving away from home and going to college, create valuable opportunities for growth, change, and individuating from one’s family of origin (Hicks & Hastie, 2008).Such transitions may be deemed to be stressful. In fact, the college years have been considered one of the most stressful times in a person’s life as well (Hales, 2009).”

In our society, we encounter number of patients with mental illnesses. Unfortunately, those include many young students/adults who suffer a lot personally, socially and academically due to these mental illnesses, that leave a great impact on their lives. When he/she is in his/her normal state of health society treat him/her in better way but when he/she suffers any sort of mental illness society’s perception totally changes about that person. Person is then isolated, ignored, and disrespected just because person has lost his cognitive abilities and impaired his/her ability in performing daily living activities. Further it not only shows its impact on patient’s life but it also disturbs his family’s life as well.

There are so many factors associated with studies overburden and mental illnesses in young adults. One of the major etiological factors is if a student is having any cognitive disability and they serve as below average student and is unable managing his/her time constructively in academics and that leads to studies overburden. Lack of resources i.e., internet, library, books etc, financial instability/crises, maladjustment to environment i.e. entering into city life for the first time. According to Alvi, T., Assad, F., Ramzan, M., & Khan, F. A. (2010)”College students are expected to carry a more difficult workload at a faster pace while adjusting to a new environment with little or no supervision (Missouri AHEAD, 2007), Lack of coping with life stresses, Parental neglect, parents and teachers high expectations, lack of teacher/parent guidance and any physical/mental disorder. Academic stress among students has long been researched on, and researchers have identified stressors as too many assignments, competition with other students, failures and lack of pocket money” (Fair brother and Warn, 2003).

 These factors further contribute to stress, anxiety, depression and more complex psychiatric disorders. According to (James 2013)” The inability to cope with stress has been shown to negatively impact health behaviors in college students, including alcohol abuse, smoking, and eating disorders (Oliver, Reed & Smith, 1998; Pritchard, Wilson, & Yamnitz, 2007; Economo, Hildebrandt, & Hyatt, 2008) 2008; Dyson & Renk, 2006; Benton et al., 2002) and lower self-esteem (Hudd et al., 2000).” Moreover anxiety is said to be the normal response of stress but if it exceeds to more severity it can lead to anxiety disorders. These consequences further detoriate the mental health status, physical well-being, decrease in work and school functioning and people may end up in disability and even contribute to death. According to CHAMBERS, E. (2013)“Several studies have also shown a decrease in the mental health status of college students due to stress, which contribute to increase in rates of depression (Yorgason, Lonville, & Zitzman).”

Now the main concern is how to manage these negative health consequences. To overcome academic overloads as a student the first and foremost priority must be to manage time properly. Seek different stress management and coping techniques, for example mind diversion activities, deep breathing exercises, time out strategies with friends etc. Seeking help from student counselor to minimize and overcome certain issues related to academic overload. The major chunk of responsibility regarding the care of mentally ill clients comes on the shoulder of health care providers. As a nurse we have to involve them in healthy activities. Teach them about healthy behaviors, the significance of enough sleep, regular exercise and diet. Teachers have great influence on mental wellbeing of students that is why they must ensure not to provide students with excessive academic workloads at a time. Rather they should give home tasks weekly but not on daily basis. Parents and family guidance, moral and financial support should be enhanced to overcome the burden and strain of students. In government sector Education policy makers are the backbone of structuring our curriculum so there must be a collaborative approach between policy makers, teachers and educational institutions to shape a relevant and student focused curriculum.Strenthening of communication process and networks for psychiatric patient to enhance community-based social systems and promotion of good health.

In conclusion of the study I tried to discuss above that studies overburden is loading a student with lots of academic strain or burden which that person is incapable to bear and consequently leading to negative health consequences like stress, depression impairment in cognitive/intellectual functioning and eventually committing suicide. I was able to identify some of the common factors leading to studies overburden, these includes cognitive inability, lack of time management and resources, Parent and teachers high expectations, maladjustment to new environment and many other contributing factors. Some of these causes were associated with the patient I encountered during my clinical rotation. She was facing new environment, new study environment containing new study methodology. Likewise was unable to do her assignment on due date and time, therefore got stressed and became mentally unwell. All these factors further contribute towards stress, depression, anxiety disorders and more complex mental disorders. Inability to cope with stress  then accounts for many negatively health behaviors such as alcohol abuse, smoking, and eating disorders.Detoriation of the students mental, physical and social wellbeing occurs.Lastely I tried to disclose strategies to overcome such mental illnesses. Those were effective time management, seeking help from student councilor, seeking positive healthy behaviors then we discussed about the role of nurse, parents, teachers and policy makers in minimizing such mental disorders as well as providing clients with effective coping strategies.

References for this article can be provided on request. (editor)

The contributor is a 4th year BScN student at the Aga Khan University School of Nursing and Midwifery. 

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