A survey conducted by the Kerry Mental Health Association, in March 2001 among final year Leaving Cert. students, reveals that the students suffer from a considerable amount of stress because of a fear of doing badly in the Leaving Cert. Exam. The survey was carried out in 28 Post Primary Schools throughout Kerry and a total of 1422 students participated. The 28 schools comprised 18 mixed schools, 7 all female schools and 3 all male schools. The questionaire consisted of 19 different headings and each student was asked to identify how stressful each heading was in relation to him/herself on a scale of 1 to 5. For the purpose of processing and as an indication of the degree of severity of stress in relation to each heading the stress levels were divided into 5 different grades e.g. Greatest stress, Much stress, Some stress, Little stress and Very little stress. For the purpose of the report Greatest stress and Much stress are combined and are referred to as considerable amount of stress. The term females refers to those from an all female school and males to those from an all male school. The lower the mean in relation to a heading the greater the stress.
Of the 1422 students surveyed 66.3% indicated that they endured a considerable amount of stress as a result of fear of doing badly in the Leaving Cert. and out of the overall 66.3% females tend to suffer the greatest amount of stress and this is reflected by 72.4% of females as against 57.2% of males.
The next most stressing factor for students was anxiety about career choice where 46.3% overall indicated that it was the cause of a considerable amount of stress for themselves. Again out of this 46.3% females tend to be the most affected at 54.3% as against 45.8% of males.
Being criticised/mocked was the most stressing factor for 35.7% overall and this was more prominent in mixed schools and is slightly a more stressing factor among males at 36.7% as against females at 35.7%.
In relation to bullying 35.5% of students indicated that it is a source of a considerable amount of stress for them. Again this is more evident in mixed schools at 37.5% with more females at 33.4% than males at 26.8% being affected.
The next most stressing factor was the issue of being unattractive, fat, worried about acne at 33.1% overall where females indicated that it was a source of considerable stress for themselves at 45% compared to 20.7% of males.
Under the heading of being ignored 32.3% of students say that it is the most stressing factor for them, being more prevalent among females at 36.5% as against males at 27.5%.
In relation to strained relationship with one parent 31.2% overall indicated that it was the cause of a considerable amount of stress for them with very slight difference between males at 30.6% and females at 29.3% and it is more of an issue with students of a mixed school at 32.1%.
Other issues that students indicated as being a source of a considerable amount of stress were being rejected by fellow students at 29.2% overall with males 21.4%, females 33.2% and mixed schools at 28.8%.
Problems with boy/girlfriend relationships28.5% overall, male 29.7%, female 31.5% and mixed schools 27.1%. Difficulty communicating with parents 27.9% overall, females 32%, males 19.1% and mixed schools 27.5%.
Alcoholism in family 27.6% overall, males 26.7%, females 25.7% and mixed schools 28.6%. Family problems - lack of finance/unemployment 24.8% overall, males 17.6%, females 24.1% and mixed schools 26.2%.
Problems with drugs-in family 22.4% overall, males 15.3%, females 20.1% and mixed schools 24.2%. Worried about independence , leaving home 21.8% overall, males 13.8, females 24.1% and mixed schools 22%.
Problems with alcohol - self 20.6% overall, males 16%, females 15.7% and mixed schools 23 2%. Issues that are a source of stress to a lesser degree are difficulty making conversation at 17.8% overall with males at 17.5% more affected than females at 14.9%. Being rejected by teachers at 17.7% overall, lack of sporting skills at 12.9% overall and finally sexual doubts - delayed development, orientation at 11.2% overall with very little differences between males and females in these areas.
|1.||Fear of doing badly in Leaving Cert||66.3%||57.2%||72.4%||65.2%|
|2.||Anxiety about career choice||46.3%||45.8%||54.3%||46.4%|
|5.||Being unattractive, fat worried about acne||33.1%||20.7%||45%||30.2%|
|7.||Strained relationship with one parent||31.2%||30.6%||29.3%||32.1%|
|8.||Being rejected by fellow students||29.2%||21.4%||33.2%||28.8%|
|9.||Problems with boy/girlfriend relationships||28.5%||29.7%||31.5%||27.1%|
|10.||Difficulty communicating with parents||27.9%||19.1%||32%||27.5%|
|11.||Alcoholism in family||27.6%||26.7%||25.7%||28.6%|
|12.||Family problems-lack of finance / unemployment||24.8%||17.6%||24.1%||26.2%|
|13.||Problems with drugs-in family||22.4%||15.3%||20.1%||24.2%|
|14.||Worried about independence, leaving home||21.8%||13.8%||24.1%||22%|
|15.||Problems with alcohol self||20.6%||16%||15.7%||23.2%|
|16.||Difficulty making conversation||17.8%||17.5%||14.9%||19%|
|17.||Being rejected by teachers||17.7%||13%||14.4%||19.5%|
|18.||Lack of sporting skills||12.9%||14.5%||10.7%||13.4%|
|19.||Sexual doubts, delayed development, orientation||11.2%||10%||11.3%||11.3%|
Overall the survey revealed that females were generally more stressed than males and also that the students from an all female school and from a mixed school were more stressed than students from an all male school. In factor analysis (Rotated Component Matrix) the survey revealed that the headings or stressors could be divided into 3 different groups and indicates that if a student suffered a considerable amount of stress associated with a heading within a group that there is a chance that he/she may also be stressed as a result of another heading within the same group or may be linked to other headings within the group in some way.
The three groups consisted of :
(1) problems with alcohol-self, problems with drugs - in family, alcoholism in family, family problems - lack of finance/unemployment, sexual doubts - delayed development/orientation, strained relationship with one parent, difficulty communicating with parents, being rejected by teachers, problems with boy/girlfriend relationships, lack of sporting skills.
(2) Being ignored, being rejected by fellow students, being criticised/mocked, being bullied, difficulty making conversation.
(3) Anxiety about career choice, fear of doing badly in Leaving Certificate, worried about independence , leaving home and being unattractive, fat, worried about acne.
Finally the object of the survey was four-fold
(a) to give the students the unique opportunity to indicate in relation to various headings what they considered to be the most stressful in relation to themselves. (b) to give teachers the opportunity of being made aware of what issues were most stressful for their students both at local level and throughout the County. (c) that students themselves, by participating in the survey, would become more aware of issues that were a source of stress in relation to themselves and as a result be more aware of the implications in relation to their mental health and (d) that in conjunction with the launch of the Mental Health Resource Pack / Mental Health Matters teachers would now see a need to deliver the Pack in schools and that as a result of the findings of the survey would develop an incentive to do so and with the aid of the Pack will feel more confident that they can address various issues relating to Mental Health that they now know exist within the school setting.