Nobody understands the effects of stress more than the engineering students. With the unforgiving requirements, the mind-boggling exams and assignments, the pressure of project deadlines, and the terrorizing professors, among others, the stress level in engineering soars to great heights, to the point that it already breaks the mental health of the students.
Stress is only one mental health issue. There is also the severe anxiety due to the pressure to deliver. Engineering students are almost always expected to be on top, but this is challenging to do when they have problems to juggle not only in academics but also in personal life. The performance in college often ends up to just passing which leads to frustration.
And there is depression. It’s a serious mental problem that erodes the well-being of engineering students, characterized by low self-esteem, loss of interest in almost all things, and feeling of hopelessness. The course somehow forces this kind of problem to the students because of the difficult circumstances. This is the ultimate case of mental health issues in engineering that sometimes leads to the students committing suicide.
It appears that this mental health problem is growing.
American College Health Association conducted a survey in 2009 and found that 46% of college students said they felt “things were hopeless” at least once in the previous 12 months. About a third of these students suffered from depression, making it difficult to function. While this speaks about college in general, it just proves that institutions fail in providing psychological and counselling support to the students.
Meanwhile, University of Windsor in Canada recently had engineering students reporting to them about being victims of severe anxiety and stress under increasing pressures in engineering school. In a town-hall discussion, student Eleane Paguaga Amador spoke to a panel of experts for dedicated services in the engineering building and told, while crying, that she had a roommate also studying engineering who died by suicide in 2015.
In India, where engineering is a national obsession, cases of suicide are increasing at an alarming rate. Experts say that most of the suicides are due to fear of failure and the burden of expectations from family. Last year, a third year engineering student at DY Patil College named Atul Kamble has been reported to have committed suicide by hanging to the ceiling at his rented room.
So what should be done to help alleviate this worsening issue among engineering students?
For one, engineering curriculums should be tailored to be not demanding to engineering students. Because engineering students take simultaneous subjects in a semester, they are easily fatigued and stressed. Who becomes excited when think about passing the subjects all at once? There should also be continuous advocating of teamwork and group activities to help ease one’s burden in engineering.
These are already proven by the system design engineering program at the University of Waterloo, after the institution conducted a survey to analyze the mental health of the engineering students.
It revealed that the said program had the best mental health because of the flexibility of the curriculum and a strong sense of teamwork within classmates. Meanwhile, the electrical engineering program had the lowest mental health due to the competition between students.
In addition, the parents of engineering students should also lessen the expectations so not to bring more pressure. This should apply especially in India where engineering is a dream of the mother and the father more than their child.
If all else do not work, a psychological support and counselling program by institutions should help in dealing with stress, severe anxiety, and depression. Nobody goes through these mental problems alone so once it is there, it needs intervention from the experts.