International Schools and Mental Health | Teen Ink

International Schools and Mental Health

May 31, 2021
By bea1234 BRONZE, Nairob, Other
bea1234 BRONZE, Nairob, Other
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

If you’re a student or have been in school, you know how challenging attending a school can be. You would also know how much of an impact school can have on your mental health. In fact, every 100 minutes, a teen takes their life; self-harm, the act of hurting oneself on purpose, affects nearly 1 in 4 teenage girls in the United States and on top of that, suicide is the third-leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24. These numbers are shocking. However some communities have it worse, how is it for international students? International students experience more acculturative stress, unrealistic high standards from family members and friends, putting them at much greater risk of having a mental illness. Many find it hard to seek help when it comes to mental health. This is why international schools need to focus more on students’ mental health.

Acculturative stress. A type of stress that's caused by a shift in an individual’s environment. It often results in particular stress behaviours that often include anxiety, depression, heightened psychosomatic symptoms (physical symptoms that arise from mental health problems from or are influenced by the mind and emotions rather than a specific organic cause in the body, such as an injury), identity confusion, and feelings of marginality and alienation. Many international students experience acculturative stress from being away from home. International students tend to move around frequently, meaning that many might be away from their close relatives. A study that followed children over ten years showed that children and teens tend to make better decisions and take care of themselves when connected to their family; since international students are often away from their loved ones, it is essential to provide stable support for those in need.

We all hate when people have unrealistic expectations. It makes us feel like failures and adds a tone of stress to meet those expectations. But what about expectations set by family? The way they think, feel, judge and act. In subtle ways, these affect students’ mental health. International students tend to come from diverse cultures with different beliefs and expectations, consistently pushing and adding pressure to their child to meet those expectations. Cultural expectations can lead to worsening self-esteem resulting in a variety of issues. Parents may also set expectations on their child due to financial strain. Numerous parents send their child to expensive schools in hopes of a good education and career. On average, when the child does not meet those expectations, parents frequently display disappointment to the child as they spent so much money on their education.  


Remember when you would go shopping with your parents, and you would beg your parents to buy you a bag of candy, only to have them respond with "We do not need that"? This is often the response students get from their parents when asking for help. Parents from different cultures may be very ignorant about mental health issues. This leads to their child being unable to get proper help and goes undiagnosed. With 30% of teenagers suffering from undiagnosed mental illness, it is vital to support international schools to help them. Educating teachers and providing counsellors to help students at risk is vital.

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