Board exam, admissions anxiety plagues students in Classes 9-12: NCERT survey

NCERT survey on mental health covered 3.79 lakh students in Classes 6-12 and found personal and school life satisfaction decline sharply in higher classes.


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NCERT undertook the task of conducting the survey to help understand the perceptions of school students on aspects related to their mental health. (Photo: Shutterstock)NCERT undertook the task of conducting the survey to help understand the perceptions of school students on aspects related to their mental health. (Photo: Shutterstock)

R. Radhika | September 7, 2022 | 12:08 PM IST

NEW DELHI: A nationwide mental health and wellbeing survey conducted by the ministry of education found that mental health drastically declines among students when they reach the secondary stage – Classes 9 and 12.

According to the survey, secondary students experiencing school-life satisfaction dropped to 68 percent from 81 percent in middle school, or Classes 6-8. Anxiety related to exams, studies, and results are the main reasons.

The findings show that students in Classes 9 to 12 face identity crises, increased sensitivity towards relationships, peer pressure, fear of board examinations, anxiety, and uncertainty about future admissions, careers and more.

The study observed a visible decline in students’ confidence about their physical appearance, satisfaction with personal and school life, availability of people to share their feelings, and experiences of happiness.

The survey also covered the emotions experienced by students, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown and beyond, the attempts at continuing teaching-learning online and challenges experienced by students. Close to 40 percent of students also felt the lack of social interaction due to online classes and half of the students found it difficult to learn online content. Only 22 percent of responses showed online classes to be better than offline classes.

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Since the outbreak of the pandemic, this is the first survey by the ministry of education that provides insights into the mental health and well-being of students that can be the basis for taking up related work in the school curriculum, teacher education curriculum, and other areas related to education.

Education ministry survey

The mental health survey findings are based on the responses of 3.79 lakh students in Classes 6 to 12 from different schools across the country. A total of 3,79,013 students participated in the survey from January to March 2022 from 28 states and eight union territories.

The study was jointly conducted by the Manodarpan cell of the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and the department of educational psychology and foundations of education.

The ministry of education collected the data from public and private schools including Kendriya Vidyalaya, Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Eklavya Model Residential Schools, Sainik Schools, and Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya.

A total of 67,156 students from private schools participated in the mental health survey which comprises 17.67 percent of the total data.

NCERT Survey: School satisfaction

Around 53 percent of students from state government schools felt “always satisfied” with their personal life while 79 percent of students reported being very happy with school life. However, this satisfaction decreased when it comes to academic life. Students satisfied with their academic life dropped from 60 percent in Classes 6-8 to 45 percent in higher classes. In private schools, the drop was even sharper – 39 percent in middle school to 18 percent at the secondary stage.

According to the ministry of education survey, around 30 percent of students in the secondary stage lacked concentration and lagged behind in their studies. When asked about various reasons for anxiety about academic life, a little more than half the students – 55 percent – reported feeling anxious about studies; 56 percent of girls reported anxiety as compared to 52 percent boys.

Girl respondents also reported mood swings, feeling tired, tearful and lonely in the survey. Meanwhile, around 43 percent of respondents felt increased difficulty in concentrating and frequent mood swings.

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Mental health and COVID

Prolonged school closure and online learning also left a deep impact on the mental health and well-being of students.

As per the study, 54 percent of students faced difficulty in understanding the online content and 35 percent faced technical or network issues. As students moved to higher classes, online learning got more challenging. Of the total, 38 percent of students in Classes 9-12 reported changes in sleeping patterns. The same set also experienced extreme mood swings during the lockdown period.

The study found that financial problems and changes in the emotional expressions of family members are commonly-faced with difficulties at home reported by students of state government schools. Around 30 percent of the students reported that they went through financial problems at home during the lockdown. Meanwhile, a majority of the responses in private school students – 55 percent – didn’t face any difficulties at home since the outbreak of COVID-19.

Coping strategies

The findings further showed that 43 percent of respondents said they were able to quickly adapt to changes with middle school students doing slightly better.

Around 42 percent of students of state government schools responded that they can solve challenging tasks – 45 percent in the middle and 41 percent in the secondary stage. Meanwhile, in private schools, 32 percent of the students reported that they are frequently able to solve challenging tasks.

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