‘Life always makes us black and blue, but those painful things will make us stronger until we came through.’ Hemingway once wrote. Nonetheless, is this true? Perhaps we do recover from pain but sometimes it could kill us. As for a typical high school student in an elite school in China, I feel anxiety everywhere. The pressure from classmates, teachers, parents and even from friends could easily turn something small into a serious issue. This kind of issue will finally lead to negative emotions that strongly affect students’ academic behaviors and attitudes toward lives. In fact, this situation is being more and more prevalent among today’s Chinese high school students.
Signs of students’ anxiety
Anxiety is defined as a subjective sense of fear, distress, or worry that may exhibit both physical sensations (e.g., headaches or nausea) and emotional symptoms (e.g., fear or nervousness) (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2000). Studies have shown that when students feel nervous, afraid, panic, it could be the symptoms of anxiety. Meanwhile, these students often feel worried, tired, dizzy and easier to have bad dreams. Besides, anxiety could have significant influence on students’ behaviors on their academic performance and productivity.
The situation of students’ anxiety in Chinese high schools
Yue Peilin,Huang Zitong (2016) conducted a survey among middle school students in Beijing and used the Self-Rating Anxiety Scale (SAS) to test their responses on anxiety. 226 middle school students from different schools were investigated, including 38 junior high school students and 188 senior high school students. The result showed 30 of them has anxiety disorder (SAS > 50 points), accounting for 13.3%. The mean SAS score of senior high school group was 39.49 (+ 0.68). We could give the conclusion that anxiety disorder is the most common mental disorder in middle school students.
Li mingrui (2016) did a study on types of anxiety and its factors. Her study tells us that there are three major factors for the appearance of anxiety——family, school, and the individual. First, families that have high level of intimacy and have democratic atmosphere allow students to be less anxious. Second, schools also put pressure on students. Not only do the grade affects students, but also teachers’ teaching style plays matters. Last, anxiety affected by each student’s ages and characters as well. When it comes to students’ characters, studies have shown that self-esteem and self-acceptance are significant.
My research on Chinese high school students’ anxiety
This study is based on Chinese elite students who study in Special A program and students from top high schools in Beijing (Beijing No.4 High School, The Experimental High School Attached to Beijing Normal University). The number of students who contribute to the data is 85, which includes 28 males and 57 females. The exploratory research contains three aspects: the level of anxiety and the level of help from others, specific types of anxiety their schools and personal lives bring, and the intervention of school, parents and themselves to reduce anxiety.
1.According to the survey, the causes on students’ anxiety are showed as follows:
Table 1 Types of anxiety schools bring to students (effective number of data: 78)
Table 2 Types of anxiety students have in their personal lives (60)
2.According to the survey, the extent of different causes on students’ anxiety are showed as follows:
Table 3 The extent of anxiety each of the following gives them
(1= not a source of anxiety at all 7 = most important source of anxiety)
Table 4 The extent of help each of the following gives them to reduce their anxiety
(1= cannot not help me at all 7 = can help me most)
3. According to the survey, the intervention students seeking for are showed as follows:
Table 5 Types of intervention students seek for in their schools (56)
Table 6 Types of interventions students seek for in their families (73)
Table 7 Types of intervention students seek for themselves (69)
In summary, anxiety caused by teachers, parents, classmates and friends are serious, while help from them are more important. Communicate with parents and teachers as well as find some distraction are effective intervention to reduce anxiety.
The disadvantage of this article is that only elite students take this survey, they might cannot give whole picture of Chinese high schools. Another problem is that the sample data volume is relatively small and majority of them are female students compared with male students. Therefore, the conclusions drawn from the collected data may be inaccurate.