Board Exams: 5 signs parents must look out for to know if their child is struggling with mental health issues

There are certain signs shown by students during board exam season that must not be swept under the rug by parents as 'normal'.

ByMarina Paulose

Published Mar 09, 2023 | 8:15 AM Updated Mar 09, 2023 | 8:15 AM

Handling board exam stress

With the board exams in full swing, a heartbreaking case was reported from Rajasthan last week where a Class 10 student died by suicide as she was unable to handle the severe stress and pressure of the examination.

She left behind a note which mentioned how much pressure she was under due to the 10th board exams and that she was sorry she would “not be able to score more than 95 per cent on the exams”.

A similar case was reported from Navi Mumbai last month where a Class 12 student took his life a day before the board exams. The police found a note in which he said that he was unable to study and could not fulfil the expectations of his parents.

From depression to irritability, students can undergo various issues. (Unsplash)

Such incidents are bound to send shivers down the spines of the many parents whose children are currently preparing and appearing for the board examinations.

It goes without saying that parents play the most important role for students when it comes to studying and preparing for the boards. They must shoulder the responsibility of taking holistic care of their child’s well-being in every manner possible.

However, parents must also watch out for signs indicating that their child’s mental health is not in the best condition as they prepare for the exams, which could be detrimental in many ways.

South First spoke to psychologists and psychiatrists on exam stress and children’s mental health to come up with 5 signs that parents need to watch out for that suggest their child is not coping well with the pressure:

1. Withdrawal

The child can suddenly become sullen and significantly reduce communication with their family. This can become a cause of concern for parents if it continues for more than 3-4 weeks, according to Dr Uma Hirisave, a clinical psychologist at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru.

“Parents need to observe their children and talk to them if they think something seems untoward. Keeping open channels of communication is very important. In case the child is not comfortable talking to the parents, professional help should be considered,” Dr Hirisave suggests.

Parents must intervene when they see their child visibly stressed. (Unsplash)

2. Depression

Another factor to watch out for, according to Dr Hirisave, is any sign of depression among children. This can appear in many forms, including irritability, and parents should find ways to talk to them and communicate to find out how they can help.

“Temperament is very important as some children are very sensitive to criticism and that could be a contributing factor as they heap pressure on themselves as a reaction to what their parents say,” Dr Hirisave told South First.

3. Biological disturbances

Being unable to eat properly and sleep are the most crucial biological disturbances that can potentially send the child into a downward spiral.

Cautioning parents to not sweep these signs under the rug, Dr Hirisave says, “Some parents might cover this up thinking every child acts like this under stress or when tense; but they need to be more vigilant than ever in such situations.”

4. Feeling like simply giving up on the exam

A key sign parents need to watch out for is when their children are so overwhelmed by the stress of performing, that they end up losing all hope entirely.

The pressure of doing well in the exams can end up making them feel constantly hopeless and helpless, according to Dr Mahesh R Gowda, a psychiatrist and the director of Spandana health care.

A child being aloof or completely withdrawn is a sign of concern. (Unsplash)

5. Not caring about the result whatsoever

Now, this is an extreme reaction, according to Dr Gowda, but a concerning one, nevertheless.

While it is not healthy to be hung up on the results all the time, it is also somewhat alarming when the children suddenly shows no interest or any sign of concern about their performance in the exams.

Parents should immediately step in here to try and understand why their child seems to have lost interest in their own performance.

Dr Gowda further calls on parents to motivate their children without giving them ultimatums about career choices.

“We should help kids understand that each one of them has a place in this world. We should tell them that if they do well, there are certain options that are open for them, and if they don’t, they should work on thinking about other options or towards scoring better the next time,” Dr Gowda told South First.