Exam Season Stress and Student Mental Health: An International Epidemic


  • Dr. A. Shaji George Independent Researcher, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India




Exam stress, Student mental health, Academic pressure, Standardized testing, Adolescent wellbeing, Test anxiety, School counselling, Holistic education, Lifelong learning, non-cognitive skills


This paper examines the mounting crisis of student mental health issues stemming from extreme exam pressure, which has risen to the level of an international epidemic. Quantitative indicators make clear both the severity and global nature of the crisis. Suicide ranks as the leading cause of death for those aged 15 to 39 around the world, with over 800,000 people dying of suicide every year. Alarmingly, suicide attempts by teenagers spike during exam periods across numerous developed countries. In India, student suicide rates rose an astonishing 70% from 2011 to 2021 alone, with over 13,000 students taking their lives in 2021 or roughly 35 deaths daily. Studies directly tie as much as 8% of these suicides to exam stress. Similarly stark correlations between self-harm/suicide attempts and exam periods appear for secondary students in Canada, England, South Korea, and China which holds notoriously demanding university entrance examinations. Rates of psychiatric hospitalizations also climb among teens in Canada and England during these high-pressure exam terms. The roots of this crisis reflect the immense pressure placed on students by sociocultural attitudes framing exam success as a life-defining goal. Across Eastern and Western cultures alike, families, communities, and nations signal to youth that their value and future security depend overwhelmingly on aceing standardized tests, outcompeting peers, and gaining admission to elite institutions of higher education. Testing assumes an outsized role as the chief determinant and gateway to overall life outcomes. This pressure cooker environment breeds immense stress and anxiety while largely neglecting student emotional health and framing self-worth in reductionist terms of exam mastery. Research shows supportive school climates and teaching test-coping techniques cannot compensate fully for these engrained societal mindsets. To counter such a complex international problem, solutions must address root cultural drivers head-on through coordinated local, national, and global initiatives: reframing societal messaging around testing's purpose to students' self-concept and inherent worth; policies explicitly prioritizing student mental health alongside academic achievement; decoupling tests from automatic life trajectories; student-centered holistic learning models; family and community engagement. With concerted efforts on these sociocultural fronts combined with strong youth voices speaking out, the epidemic of examrelated stress threatening students worldwide can recede. This paper issues an urgent call to action to intervene against a truly global crisis and hidden epidemic carrying grave costs for our future generations.




How to Cite

Dr. A. Shaji George. (2024). Exam Season Stress and Student Mental Health: An International Epidemic. Partners Universal International Research Journal, 3(1), 138–149. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.10826032