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Exploring the underlying causes of poor mental health in high school girls

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Many young girls experience poor mental health during high school. Many people focus on helping everyone but the Ph.D. Student Janne Lund wants us to look at the big picture. Because what is it about high school that leads to poor mental health in girls?

Many factors influence how we feel. But today, the challenge is that mental health problems are reduced to the feelings of each person. If we want to understand why so many young girls have mental health issues, we need to look at the bigger picture and the factors behind it.”

Janne Lund, Ph.D. student

Self-reported mental health problems have been increasing among young people, and particularly among girls, for several years. Lund is now an assistant teacher, but previously worked as a social teacher at a lower secondary school.

“The increase reported in the Ungdata survey is consistent with what I saw at work. Many young girls were stressed and depressed. But statistics only tell you what you measure,” says Lund.

Ungdata surveys have been collecting national data on young people in Norway since 2010. The latest report shows that 17% of young people in Norway have experienced such pressure in the past week that they found it difficult to cope.

Income or education?

An important determinant of young people’s mental health is how they live and grow up. Parental income and education have long been used as measures of social conditions.
“We found that parental income had a greater impact on young people’s mental health than parental education. It is clear that young people notice if their family is less well off, but this also means that the government can put in place specific measures. financially can significantly help address children’s mental health issues,” says Lund.

Low income often leads to other social inequalities, such as weaker social networks and fewer opportunities to improve their situation. However, it is not just young people from low-income families who struggle with mental health issues.

Notes first

Academic stress, or difficulties with academic performance, is a major reason for the increase in mental health problems among young girls. For her doctoral dissertation, Lund interviewed 10 junior high school girls about their daily lives.

“A lot of girls talked about stress in everyday life. It became very clear that school stress is definitely present in their everyday life. There are so many things they have to do, and it is very much related to tests, assignments and grades,” says Lund.

Students were concerned about managing their time effectively, and this was closely tied to testing at school. There’s a lot of cramming, and Lund girls interviewed cited tests and grades as key stressors.

“Grades are what matter. The mentality was that if you weren’t getting the grade you wanted, it was because you didn’t spend enough of your free time cramming. That cramming only happened in their spare time,” says Lund.

The company values ​​achievement

The average rating was also a common concern. The students explained that in order to progress, they had to improve their average mark from year to year. They didn’t talk about the fact that the grade requirements increase from year to year, and it seems they didn’t take that into account.
Lund thinks this tendency to have to improve is also felt in society at large.

“A school is not an isolated island. It gets a lot of blame, but the pursuit of achievement and progress characterizes much of today’s society. I think it gives the school the opportunity to counterbalance that stress. Learning goals can be good, but what often gets lost is curiosity, imagination and experimentation,” says Lund.