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Year 12 stress levels for australian students - Essay Example

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Reports from the Australian Bureau of Statistics paint an alarming picture – while the 15-19 group is still one of the lowest in terms of number of suicides per 100,000 people, the figures are increasing,…
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Year 12 stress levels for australian students
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Stress is a Serious Issue for Year 12 Australian Youth suicide is becoming an increasingly serious issue in Australia. Reports from the Australian Bureau of Statistics paint an alarming picture – while the 15-19 group is still one of the lowest in terms of number of suicides per 100,000 people, the figures are increasing, and suicides make up an increasing proportion of total deaths in the 15-19 age group.1
For Australian students, year 12 is the most important of their secondary school years. Results of year 12 examinations are used as the criteria by which they are judged for entry into the work force and into tertiary education.
Because of this, stress is a serious issue for Australian students in year 12. A recent study carried out by an Australian psychologist Karen McGraw of the University of Swinburne indicates that almost one in five year 12 students have thought about hurting or killing themselves because of the stress caused by exam and homework pressures. In this study, 941 Victorian final-year students were surveyed. McGraw has described the effects of stress on the mental health of the students studied as “alarming”, and further states that while 19% had thought of suicide or self-harm, around one third of students were “severely depressed” and 41% were suffering from anxiety.2
Another Australian psychologist, adolescence specialist Michael Carr-Gregg, has stated that an inquiry in 2004 into youth suicides found that one in 11 completed suicides is a direct result of stress related to the pressures of year 12.3
McGraw’s study results come after a report in December of last year that Australian scientists had discovered conclusive proof that stress causes physical sickness – it was discovered that during periods of stress, the body releases a hormone called neuropeptide Y that dampens the body’s immune system.4 Thus it is likely that many year 12 students who are suffering from stress may also suffer from stress-related illnesses, which can only serve to increase the pressures that homework and examinations place upon them.
An earlier study, carried out in the late 1990s by Lorraine Smith and Kenneth E. Sinclair of the University of Sydney reported that 31% of year 12 and 25% of year 11 students surveyed had suffered anxiety, stress, and depression which fell “outside the normal range”.5 Together with the results of McGraw’s work, the results of this study suggest that stress is becoming a more severe problem for year 12 students over time.
In recent years this has been recognized as a serious issue, and there is an increasing variety of support systems in place for students under stress. An outreach program called “Reachout” has recently added an extensive array of fact sheets and tips for managing stress in school and university, as well as a community forum.6 Media Australia, a leading producer of education and training films, have produced a 21 minute video designed especially for final year secondary students, and is intended to teach students how to recognize the symptoms of stress in themselves, and to teach them simple ways in which they can ease their stress.7 The Australian Government Department of Education, Science, and training has set up an extensive website for year 12 students, which is designed to give them advice on another aspect which can cause a great deal of stress – planning for the future, in terms of entering tertiary education or the work force.8
References
Australian Bureau of Statistics. Suicides 1994-2004.
Breitbart.com (2005). Australian Scientists Find Proof that Stress Makes You Sick. Retrieved April 23, 2006 from .
Gough, D. and Edwards, H. (2006). Pressure Takes Big Toll on Students. Retrieved April 23, 2006 from .
Media Australia. .
Reachout. .
Smith, L. and Sinclair, K.E. Stress and learning in the Higher School Certificate. Retrieved April 23, 2006 from .
Year 12, What Next? . Read More
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