Overworked students have poorer mental health

Has the phrase, “you’ll sleep when you’re dead” ever come to mind when you stay up through the night trying to finish all of your assignments? It certainly does whenever I am, on top of working for The Ramapo News and trying to jumpstart the Literature Club.

However, my situation isn’t as packed as others. There are students on campus who are not only studying and participating in clubs, but also working a part-time job to support themselves financially. One can wonder where the time goes as they bounce between different responsibilities and what is sacrificed when their responsibilities control their week.

Students should have time to take care of their physical needs like sleep and exercise, otherwise their mental health suffers. Photo courtesy of Monstera, Pexels

The issue with the workload students are expected to undertake is that there seems to be a lack of authentic understanding. Faculty and professionals say they understand and report statistics supporting the claim as they analyze students’ declining mental health, yet things remain the same. Professors continue assigning mountains of work, and students continue to suffer.

It feels as though professors forget that students take multiple classes at once and that they are not the only professor assigning homework. I know I have struggled with the workload between overlapping due dates from various classes as well as most of my professors giving multiple assignments at once.

Now imagine having to take on a pile of overlapping assignments as well as taking the time to participate in a club and/or work a part-time job. The student’s schedule becomes a puzzle where they have to squeeze in all of their responsibilities to stay afloat.

This then becomes an issue of sacrifice. Students allow their mental health to slip as they try to keep up the pace. Anxiety and depression run rampant on college campuses as students are constantly working in order to succeed.

Not only does the work itself harm mental health, but other sacrifices also contribute. People end up having to put their social lives and their favorite activities on the back burner while they study and work. I personally love drawing, but because of all of the homework and extra responsibilities I have this semester, I have no time to make art.

Another aspect of this topic to consider is how the different majors have different kinds of workloads and stress. No matter what major you are in, you are most likely stressed – even if the reason may differ depending on your major.

American Addiction Centers did a review of 980 college students and found that the most stressed students were Education or Medical majors. They found that Education majors stressed the most about work outside of school.

Elementary Education major Melanie Dromboski is proof of this claim. When asked what she found most demanding about her major, she explained that the required clinical hours challenge her schedule on top of other responsibilities. While she usually takes four hours a day to get through general work for her classes, she spends 20 hours of her week working at a daycare where she is in charge of going between rooms and taking care of children, ranging from infancy to four years old.

Anxiety and depression run rampant on college campuses as students are constantly working in order to succeed.

This is just one story of many on this campus. Overworking is not an over-exaggeration. Students suffer from burnout quickly after the semester starts, making it harder to focus their energy on being productive as they stretch themselves thin. There needs to be a focus on the mental health of our students, and I am not talking about a flimsy email urging people to utilize counseling.

Counseling can only do so much, and it is another time vampire that drains minutes from students’ schedules that could be better spent getting through the work expected of them. Rather than continuously shoving more and more work onto our students and offering supplemental help to have them “deal with it,” how about we instead look at what we are demanding of our students? Perhaps then we will see a real change in students’ mental health. I know we certainly need it.



Featured photo courtesy of Jeswin Thomas, Unsplash