We are Prioritising mental health

Ellina G (Year 10), Editor

I’m gonna be honest with you. This article was mainly written to convince myself.  

Academic stress is felt by most, if not all, students throughout Secondary School. No matter whether you’re worried about your HSC exams or your first ever English essay in Year 7 – stress in High School is a very common occurrence. An average student is incredibly busy and typically, with this comes stress. Teenagers juggle a social life, sports, hobbies, part-time jobs – all while attempting to maintain an adequate grade-point average.  

So, if academic stress affects most students and is unavoidable, then is there no point in trying to prevent it? Right?  


Academics have always been difficult and will always remain difficult. They are designed to be that way and school only facilitates this further. Secondary School is designed to push you to your limit, to push you beyond what you think you can do. If you are genuinely invested in your classes and grades, you will, at times, feel drained by academic rigour. 

Yet, there is a way to approach strenuous academic life in a productive, healthy way and there is an approach that inevitably leads to burnout (Please read the ‘Gifted Kid Burnout – More than a Joke’ article. It touches on parts of the issue discussed in this article really well).  

Here is the thing: sometimes it may seem that to succeed in school, it’s important to prioritise academics over everything else. It may seem that a single ‘A’ in an assessment is worth locking yourself up in your room all day. It may seem that good marks in Year 11 mean quitting all your extracurriculars and neglecting your social life. 

And, while for some those methods will and do work, there is one thing that you should never prioritise academics over – your mental health.  

It’s actually quite simple: burnout is inevitable the second you prioritise academics over your emotional wellbeing.  

Now, “prioritising mental health” does not mean to stop trying in school. It does not mean detaching from academic stress completely, as often stress, to a certain extent, can serve as a great motivator. Instead, it is an acknowledgement that academics and High School are not the be all, end all of life.  

While it’s important to engage with school, all the way from assessments in Year 7 to the HSC in Year 12, your mental wellbeing, your health, should always be your priority. Top marks and amazing grades are important – yet in ten years, you will forget most of these numbers. You know what you won’t forget? The stress of High School and its long-term effect on your body.  

When I recall the happiest moments of my life so far, none of them include exams results. And, honestly, I doubt they ever will.  

Yes, it is easy for me to say these things when in reality, anybody who knows me knows that I obsess over my academics. I acknowledge that stopping stress is difficult. However, catching yourself in the moment and being proactive is much easier then burning out by the time you get to Year 11. Prevention is better than cure.   


See, stress is normal. It’s a normal part of life and school. It will always exist. However, productive and healthy stress is not overwhelming and physically dangerous. There is a thin line and once you cross it – there are serious consequences for your health.  

So, next time you feel an assessment is too much, next time you catch yourself engrossed with one singular exam mark, take a breath. Go for a walk. Read a book. It’s better to stop studying and do poorly on an assessment, then feel the consequences of stress ten years down the line.  

And I promise you, stress does not help your exam results. You can (and you probably will) get the same marks without the stress and mental strain.  

Next academic year, prioritise YOUR mental health.