the effect of homework on mental health

Is it time to get rid of homework? Mental health experts weigh in.

It's no secret that kids hate homework. And as students grapple with an ongoing pandemic that has had a wide range of mental health impacts, is it time schools start listening to their pleas about workloads?

Some teachers are turning to social media to take a stand against homework. 

Tiktok user @misguided.teacher says he doesn't assign it because the "whole premise of homework is flawed."

For starters, he says, he can't grade work on "even playing fields" when students' home environments can be vastly different.

"Even students who go home to a peaceful house, do they really want to spend their time on busy work? Because typically that's what a lot of homework is, it's busy work," he says in the video that has garnered 1.6 million likes. "You only get one year to be 7, you only got one year to be 10, you only get one year to be 16, 18."

Mental health experts agree heavy workloads have the potential do more harm than good for students, especially when taking into account the impacts of the pandemic. But they also say the answer may not be to eliminate homework altogether.

Emmy Kang, mental health counselor at Humantold , says studies have shown heavy workloads can be "detrimental" for students and cause a "big impact on their mental, physical and emotional health."

"More than half of students say that homework is their primary source of stress, and we know what stress can do on our bodies," she says, adding that staying up late to finish assignments also leads to disrupted sleep and exhaustion.

Cynthia Catchings, a licensed clinical social worker and therapist at Talkspace , says heavy workloads can also cause serious mental health problems in the long run, like anxiety and depression. 

And for all the distress homework  can cause, it's not as useful as many may think, says Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, a psychologist and CEO of Omega Recovery treatment center.

"The research shows that there's really limited benefit of homework for elementary age students, that really the school work should be contained in the classroom," he says.

For older students, Kang says, homework benefits plateau at about two hours per night. 

"Most students, especially at these high achieving schools, they're doing a minimum of three hours, and it's taking away time from their friends, from their families, their extracurricular activities. And these are all very important things for a person's mental and emotional health."

Catchings, who also taught third to 12th graders for 12 years, says she's seen the positive effects of a no-homework policy while working with students abroad.

"Not having homework was something that I always admired from the French students (and) the French schools, because that was helping the students to really have the time off and really disconnect from school," she says.

The answer may not be to eliminate homework completely but to be more mindful of the type of work students take home, suggests Kang, who was a high school teacher for 10 years.

"I don't think (we) should scrap homework; I think we should scrap meaningless, purposeless busy work-type homework. That's something that needs to be scrapped entirely," she says, encouraging teachers to be thoughtful and consider the amount of time it would take for students to complete assignments.

The pandemic made the conversation around homework more crucial 

Mindfulness surrounding homework is especially important in the context of the past two years. Many students will be struggling with mental health issues that were brought on or worsened by the pandemic , making heavy workloads even harder to balance.

"COVID was just a disaster in terms of the lack of structure. Everything just deteriorated," Kardaras says, pointing to an increase in cognitive issues and decrease in attention spans among students. "School acts as an anchor for a lot of children, as a stabilizing force, and that disappeared."

But even if students transition back to the structure of in-person classes, Kardaras suspects students may still struggle after two school years of shifted schedules and disrupted sleeping habits.

"We've seen adults struggling to go back to in-person work environments from remote work environments. That effect is amplified with children because children have less resources to be able to cope with those transitions than adults do," he explains.

'Get organized' ahead of back-to-school

In order to make the transition back to in-person school easier, Kang encourages students to "get good sleep, exercise regularly (and) eat a healthy diet."

To help manage workloads, she suggests students "get organized."

"There's so much mental clutter up there when you're disorganized. ... Sitting down and planning out their study schedules can really help manage their time," she says.

Breaking up assignments can also make things easier to tackle.

"I know that heavy workloads can be stressful, but if you sit down and you break down that studying into smaller chunks, they're much more manageable."

If workloads are still too much, Kang encourages students to advocate for themselves.

"They should tell their teachers when a homework assignment just took too much time or if it was too difficult for them to do on their own," she says. "It's good to speak up and ask those questions. Respectfully, of course, because these are your teachers. But still, I think sometimes teachers themselves need this feedback from their students."

More: Some teachers let their students sleep in class. Here's what mental health experts say.

More: Some parents are slipping young kids in for the COVID-19 vaccine, but doctors discourage the move as 'risky'

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Denise Pope

Education scholar Denise Pope has found that too much homework has negative effects on student well-being and behavioral engagement. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

A Stanford researcher found that too much homework can negatively affect kids, especially their lives away from school, where family, friends and activities matter.

“Our findings on the effects of homework challenge the traditional assumption that homework is inherently good,” wrote Denise Pope , a senior lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Education and a co-author of a study published in the Journal of Experimental Education .

The researchers used survey data to examine perceptions about homework, student well-being and behavioral engagement in a sample of 4,317 students from 10 high-performing high schools in upper-middle-class California communities. Along with the survey data, Pope and her colleagues used open-ended answers to explore the students’ views on homework.

Median household income exceeded $90,000 in these communities, and 93 percent of the students went on to college, either two-year or four-year.

Students in these schools average about 3.1 hours of homework each night.

“The findings address how current homework practices in privileged, high-performing schools sustain students’ advantage in competitive climates yet hinder learning, full engagement and well-being,” Pope wrote.

Pope and her colleagues found that too much homework can diminish its effectiveness and even be counterproductive. They cite prior research indicating that homework benefits plateau at about two hours per night, and that 90 minutes to two and a half hours is optimal for high school.

Their study found that too much homework is associated with:

* Greater stress: 56 percent of the students considered homework a primary source of stress, according to the survey data. Forty-three percent viewed tests as a primary stressor, while 33 percent put the pressure to get good grades in that category. Less than 1 percent of the students said homework was not a stressor.

* Reductions in health: In their open-ended answers, many students said their homework load led to sleep deprivation and other health problems. The researchers asked students whether they experienced health issues such as headaches, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, weight loss and stomach problems.

* Less time for friends, family and extracurricular pursuits: Both the survey data and student responses indicate that spending too much time on homework meant that students were “not meeting their developmental needs or cultivating other critical life skills,” according to the researchers. Students were more likely to drop activities, not see friends or family, and not pursue hobbies they enjoy.

A balancing act

The results offer empirical evidence that many students struggle to find balance between homework, extracurricular activities and social time, the researchers said. Many students felt forced or obligated to choose homework over developing other talents or skills.

Also, there was no relationship between the time spent on homework and how much the student enjoyed it. The research quoted students as saying they often do homework they see as “pointless” or “mindless” in order to keep their grades up.

“This kind of busy work, by its very nature, discourages learning and instead promotes doing homework simply to get points,” Pope said.

She said the research calls into question the value of assigning large amounts of homework in high-performing schools. Homework should not be simply assigned as a routine practice, she said.

“Rather, any homework assigned should have a purpose and benefit, and it should be designed to cultivate learning and development,” wrote Pope.

High-performing paradox

In places where students attend high-performing schools, too much homework can reduce their time to foster skills in the area of personal responsibility, the researchers concluded. “Young people are spending more time alone,” they wrote, “which means less time for family and fewer opportunities to engage in their communities.”

Student perspectives

The researchers say that while their open-ended or “self-reporting” methodology to gauge student concerns about homework may have limitations – some might regard it as an opportunity for “typical adolescent complaining” – it was important to learn firsthand what the students believe.

The paper was co-authored by Mollie Galloway from Lewis and Clark College and Jerusha Conner from Villanova University.

Media Contacts

Denise Pope, Stanford Graduate School of Education: (650) 725-7412, [email protected] Clifton B. Parker, Stanford News Service: (650) 725-0224, [email protected]

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More than two hours of homework may be counterproductive, research suggests.

Education scholar Denise Pope has found that too much homework has negative impacts on student well-being and behavioral engagement (Shutterstock)

A Stanford education researcher found that too much homework can negatively affect kids, especially their lives away from school, where family, friends and activities matter.   "Our findings on the effects of homework challenge the traditional assumption that homework is inherently good," wrote Denise Pope , a senior lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Education and a co-author of a study published in the Journal of Experimental Education .   The researchers used survey data to examine perceptions about homework, student well-being and behavioral engagement in a sample of 4,317 students from 10 high-performing high schools in upper-middle-class California communities. Along with the survey data, Pope and her colleagues used open-ended answers to explore the students' views on homework.   Median household income exceeded $90,000 in these communities, and 93 percent of the students went on to college, either two-year or four-year.   Students in these schools average about 3.1 hours of homework each night.   "The findings address how current homework practices in privileged, high-performing schools sustain students' advantage in competitive climates yet hinder learning, full engagement and well-being," Pope wrote.   Pope and her colleagues found that too much homework can diminish its effectiveness and even be counterproductive. They cite prior research indicating that homework benefits plateau at about two hours per night, and that 90 minutes to two and a half hours is optimal for high school.   Their study found that too much homework is associated with:   • Greater stress : 56 percent of the students considered homework a primary source of stress, according to the survey data. Forty-three percent viewed tests as a primary stressor, while 33 percent put the pressure to get good grades in that category. Less than 1 percent of the students said homework was not a stressor.   • Reductions in health : In their open-ended answers, many students said their homework load led to sleep deprivation and other health problems. The researchers asked students whether they experienced health issues such as headaches, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, weight loss and stomach problems.   • Less time for friends, family and extracurricular pursuits : Both the survey data and student responses indicate that spending too much time on homework meant that students were "not meeting their developmental needs or cultivating other critical life skills," according to the researchers. Students were more likely to drop activities, not see friends or family, and not pursue hobbies they enjoy.   A balancing act   The results offer empirical evidence that many students struggle to find balance between homework, extracurricular activities and social time, the researchers said. Many students felt forced or obligated to choose homework over developing other talents or skills.   Also, there was no relationship between the time spent on homework and how much the student enjoyed it. The research quoted students as saying they often do homework they see as "pointless" or "mindless" in order to keep their grades up.   "This kind of busy work, by its very nature, discourages learning and instead promotes doing homework simply to get points," said Pope, who is also a co-founder of Challenge Success , a nonprofit organization affiliated with the GSE that conducts research and works with schools and parents to improve students' educational experiences..   Pope said the research calls into question the value of assigning large amounts of homework in high-performing schools. Homework should not be simply assigned as a routine practice, she said.   "Rather, any homework assigned should have a purpose and benefit, and it should be designed to cultivate learning and development," wrote Pope.   High-performing paradox   In places where students attend high-performing schools, too much homework can reduce their time to foster skills in the area of personal responsibility, the researchers concluded. "Young people are spending more time alone," they wrote, "which means less time for family and fewer opportunities to engage in their communities."   Student perspectives   The researchers say that while their open-ended or "self-reporting" methodology to gauge student concerns about homework may have limitations – some might regard it as an opportunity for "typical adolescent complaining" – it was important to learn firsthand what the students believe.   The paper was co-authored by Mollie Galloway from Lewis and Clark College and Jerusha Conner from Villanova University.

Clifton B. Parker is a writer at the Stanford News Service .

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Is homework a necessary evil?

After decades of debate, researchers are still sorting out the truth about homework’s pros and cons. One point they can agree on: Quality assignments matter.

By Kirsten Weir

March 2016, Vol 47, No. 3

Print version: page 36

After decades of debate, researchers are still sorting out the truth about homework’s pros and cons. One point they can agree on: Quality assignments matter.

  • Schools and Classrooms

Homework battles have raged for decades. For as long as kids have been whining about doing their homework, parents and education reformers have complained that homework's benefits are dubious. Meanwhile many teachers argue that take-home lessons are key to helping students learn. Now, as schools are shifting to the new (and hotly debated) Common Core curriculum standards, educators, administrators and researchers are turning a fresh eye toward the question of homework's value.

But when it comes to deciphering the research literature on the subject, homework is anything but an open book.

The 10-minute rule

In many ways, homework seems like common sense. Spend more time practicing multiplication or studying Spanish vocabulary and you should get better at math or Spanish. But it may not be that simple.

Homework can indeed produce academic benefits, such as increased understanding and retention of the material, says Duke University social psychologist Harris Cooper, PhD, one of the nation's leading homework researchers. But not all students benefit. In a review of studies published from 1987 to 2003, Cooper and his colleagues found that homework was linked to better test scores in high school and, to a lesser degree, in middle school. Yet they found only faint evidence that homework provided academic benefit in elementary school ( Review of Educational Research , 2006).

Then again, test scores aren't everything. Homework proponents also cite the nonacademic advantages it might confer, such as the development of personal responsibility, good study habits and time-management skills. But as to hard evidence of those benefits, "the jury is still out," says Mollie Galloway, PhD, associate professor of educational leadership at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. "I think there's a focus on assigning homework because [teachers] think it has these positive outcomes for study skills and habits. But we don't know for sure that's the case."

Even when homework is helpful, there can be too much of a good thing. "There is a limit to how much kids can benefit from home study," Cooper says. He agrees with an oft-cited rule of thumb that students should do no more than 10 minutes a night per grade level — from about 10 minutes in first grade up to a maximum of about two hours in high school. Both the National Education Association and National Parent Teacher Association support that limit.

Beyond that point, kids don't absorb much useful information, Cooper says. In fact, too much homework can do more harm than good. Researchers have cited drawbacks, including boredom and burnout toward academic material, less time for family and extracurricular activities, lack of sleep and increased stress.

In a recent study of Spanish students, Rubén Fernández-Alonso, PhD, and colleagues found that students who were regularly assigned math and science homework scored higher on standardized tests. But when kids reported having more than 90 to 100 minutes of homework per day, scores declined ( Journal of Educational Psychology , 2015).

"At all grade levels, doing other things after school can have positive effects," Cooper says. "To the extent that homework denies access to other leisure and community activities, it's not serving the child's best interest."

Children of all ages need down time in order to thrive, says Denise Pope, PhD, a professor of education at Stanford University and a co-founder of Challenge Success, a program that partners with secondary schools to implement policies that improve students' academic engagement and well-being.

"Little kids and big kids need unstructured time for play each day," she says. Certainly, time for physical activity is important for kids' health and well-being. But even time spent on social media can help give busy kids' brains a break, she says.

All over the map

But are teachers sticking to the 10-minute rule? Studies attempting to quantify time spent on homework are all over the map, in part because of wide variations in methodology, Pope says.

A 2014 report by the Brookings Institution examined the question of homework, comparing data from a variety of sources. That report cited findings from a 2012 survey of first-year college students in which 38.4 percent reported spending six hours or more per week on homework during their last year of high school. That was down from 49.5 percent in 1986 ( The Brown Center Report on American Education , 2014).

The Brookings report also explored survey data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which asked 9-, 13- and 17-year-old students how much homework they'd done the previous night. They found that between 1984 and 2012, there was a slight increase in homework for 9-year-olds, but homework amounts for 13- and 17-year-olds stayed roughly the same, or even decreased slightly.

Yet other evidence suggests that some kids might be taking home much more work than they can handle. Robert Pressman, PhD, and colleagues recently investigated the 10-minute rule among more than 1,100 students, and found that elementary-school kids were receiving up to three times as much homework as recommended. As homework load increased, so did family stress, the researchers found ( American Journal of Family Therapy , 2015).

Many high school students also seem to be exceeding the recommended amounts of homework. Pope and Galloway recently surveyed more than 4,300 students from 10 high-achieving high schools. Students reported bringing home an average of just over three hours of homework nightly ( Journal of Experiential Education , 2013).

On the positive side, students who spent more time on homework in that study did report being more behaviorally engaged in school — for instance, giving more effort and paying more attention in class, Galloway says. But they were not more invested in the homework itself. They also reported greater academic stress and less time to balance family, friends and extracurricular activities. They experienced more physical health problems as well, such as headaches, stomach troubles and sleep deprivation. "Three hours per night is too much," Galloway says.

In the high-achieving schools Pope and Galloway studied, more than 90 percent of the students go on to college. There's often intense pressure to succeed academically, from both parents and peers. On top of that, kids in these communities are often overloaded with extracurricular activities, including sports and clubs. "They're very busy," Pope says. "Some kids have up to 40 hours a week — a full-time job's worth — of extracurricular activities." And homework is yet one more commitment on top of all the others.

"Homework has perennially acted as a source of stress for students, so that piece of it is not new," Galloway says. "But especially in upper-middle-class communities, where the focus is on getting ahead, I think the pressure on students has been ratcheted up."

Yet homework can be a problem at the other end of the socioeconomic spectrum as well. Kids from wealthier homes are more likely to have resources such as computers, Internet connections, dedicated areas to do schoolwork and parents who tend to be more educated and more available to help them with tricky assignments. Kids from disadvantaged homes are more likely to work at afterschool jobs, or to be home without supervision in the evenings while their parents work multiple jobs, says Lea Theodore, PhD, a professor of school psychology at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. They are less likely to have computers or a quiet place to do homework in peace.

"Homework can highlight those inequities," she says.

Quantity vs. quality

One point researchers agree on is that for all students, homework quality matters. But too many kids are feeling a lack of engagement with their take-home assignments, many experts say. In Pope and Galloway's research, only 20 percent to 30 percent of students said they felt their homework was useful or meaningful.

"Students are assigned a lot of busywork. They're naming it as a primary stressor, but they don't feel it's supporting their learning," Galloway says.

"Homework that's busywork is not good for anyone," Cooper agrees. Still, he says, different subjects call for different kinds of assignments. "Things like vocabulary and spelling are learned through practice. Other kinds of courses require more integration of material and drawing on different skills."

But critics say those skills can be developed with many fewer hours of homework each week. Why assign 50 math problems, Pope asks, when 10 would be just as constructive? One Advanced Placement biology teacher she worked with through Challenge Success experimented with cutting his homework assignments by a third, and then by half. "Test scores didn't go down," she says. "You can have a rigorous course and not have a crazy homework load."

Still, changing the culture of homework won't be easy. Teachers-to-be get little instruction in homework during their training, Pope says. And despite some vocal parents arguing that kids bring home too much homework, many others get nervous if they think their child doesn't have enough. "Teachers feel pressured to give homework because parents expect it to come home," says Galloway. "When it doesn't, there's this idea that the school might not be doing its job."

Galloway argues teachers and school administrators need to set clear goals when it comes to homework — and parents and students should be in on the discussion, too. "It should be a broader conversation within the community, asking what's the purpose of homework? Why are we giving it? Who is it serving? Who is it not serving?"

Until schools and communities agree to take a hard look at those questions, those backpacks full of take-home assignments will probably keep stirring up more feelings than facts.

Further reading

  • Cooper, H., Robinson, J. C., & Patall, E. A. (2006). Does homework improve academic achievement? A synthesis of research, 1987-2003. Review of Educational Research, 76 (1), 1–62. doi: 10.3102/00346543076001001
  • Galloway, M., Connor, J., & Pope, D. (2013). Nonacademic effects of homework in privileged, high-performing high schools. The Journal of Experimental Education, 81 (4), 490–510. doi: 10.1080/00220973.2012.745469
  • Pope, D., Brown, M., & Miles, S. (2015). Overloaded and underprepared: Strategies for stronger schools and healthy, successful kids . San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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Health Hazards of Homework

March 18, 2014 | Julie Greicius Pediatrics .

student_stress-stanford-childrens

A new study by the Stanford Graduate School of Education and colleagues found that students in high-performing schools who did excessive hours of homework “experienced greater behavioral engagement in school but also more academic stress, physical health problems, and lack of balance in their lives.”

Those health problems ranged from stress, headaches, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, weight loss and stomach problems, to psycho-social effects like dropping activities, not seeing friends or family, and not pursuing hobbies they enjoy.

In the Stanford Report story about the research, Denise Pope , a senior lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Education and a co-author of the  study published in the  Journal of Experimental Education , says, “Our findings on the effects of homework challenge the traditional assumption that homework is inherently good.”

The study was based on survey data from a sample of 4,317 students from 10 high-performing high schools in California communities in which median household income exceeded $90,000. Of the students surveyed, homework volume averaged about 3.1 hours each night.

“It is time to re-evaluate how the school environment is preparing our high school student for today’s workplace,” says Neville Golden, MD , chief of adolescent medicine at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health and a professor at the School of Medicine. “This landmark study shows that excessive homework is counterproductive, leading to sleep deprivation, school stress and other health problems. Parents can best support their children in these demanding academic environments by advocating for them through direct communication with teachers and school administrators about homework load.”

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Does Homework Serve a Purpose?

Finding the right balance between schoolwork and home life..

Posted November 5, 2018 | Reviewed by Ekua Hagan

Olga Zaretska/Deposit Photos

Homework — a dreaded word that means more work and less play. The mere thought of doing additional work after a seven-hour day (that begins extremely early) can be gruesome. Not to mention, many teens have other commitments after the school day ends.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 57 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 17 years old participate in at least one after-school extracurricular activity. And that’s a good thing because youth extracurricular involvement comes with benefits such as boosting academic performance, reducing risky behaviors (i.e., drug use and drinking), promoting physical health, and providing a safe structured environment. However, tag these extracurricular activities onto the end of a school day and you’ll find that many teens don’t get home until it's dark outside.

What about the teen who works a 15- to 20-hour job on top of an extracurricular activity? The US Department of Labor reports that one in five high school students have a part-time job, and those jobs too can come with added benefits. Teens who work often learn the value of a hard-earned dollar. They learn how to manage their money, learn to problem solve, and most importantly, they learn how to work with people. Plus, a job in high school is a great way to add valuable experience to a resume.

With so many after school opportunities available for teens, it can be extremely difficult for them to balance homework with their other commitments. Oftentimes, active kids simply don’t have enough time in a day to get all that’s asked of them finished. When it comes homework, in all my years of working in the public school system, I have never seen a student jump for joy when homework was assigned. Of course, there are some who were anxious to complete the assignment, but that was more to get it off their busy plate. Which brings us to the essential question — does homework serve a purpose?

There are those who stand firm and back the claim that homework does serve a purpose . They often cite that homework helps prepare students for standardized tests, that it helps supplement and reinforce what’s being taught in class, and that it helps teach fundamental skills such as time management , organization, task completion, as well as responsibility (extracurricular activities and work experience can also teach those fundamental skills).

Another argument for homework is that having students complete work independently shows that they can demonstrate mastery of the material without the assistance of a teacher. Additionally, there have been numerous studies supporting homework, like a recent study that shows using online systems to assign math homework has been linked to a statistically significant boost in test scores. So, there you have it: Homework has a lot of perks and one of those involves higher test scores, particularly in math. But don’t form your opinion just yet.

Although many people rally for and support homework, there is another school of thought that homework should be decreased, or better yet, abolished. Those who join this group often cite studies linking academic stress to health risks. For example, one study in the Journal of Educational Psychology showed that when middle school students were assigned more than 90 to 100 minutes of daily homework, their math and science test scores began to decline.

Antonio Guillem Fernández/Deposit Photos

The Journal of Experimental Education published research indicating that when high school students were assigned too much homework, they were more susceptible to serious mental and physical health problems, high-stress levels, and sleep deprivation. Stanford University also did a study that showed more than a couple of hours of homework a night was counterproductive. Think about it — teens spend an entire day at school, followed by extracurricular activities and possibly work, and then they get to end their day with two to three hours of homework. Now that’s a long day! No wonder so many of our teens are sleep-deprived and addicted to caffeine? On average most teens only get about 7.4 hours of sleep per night but according to the American Academy of Pediatrics , they need 8 to 10 hours.

Regardless of where you stand on the homework debate, a few things are certain: If homework is given, it should be a tool that’s used to enhance learning. Also, teachers should take into account the financial requirements of assignments, electronic accessibility, and they should be familiar with student needs as well as their other commitments. For example, not all students have equal opportunities to finish their homework, so incomplete work may not be a true reflection of their ability—it may be the result of other issues they face outside of school.

Many of today's teens are taking college-level courses as early as the ninth and tenth grades. With the push of programs such as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, Early College Programs, and Dual Enrollment, today’s teens are carrying academic loads that surpass past generations. The result of this push for rigor can lead to high levels of stress, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, depression , anxiety , and early burnout . Too many teens are already running on empty. With more than half of teens reporting school and homework as a primary source of their stress, it’s evident that academic pressure is becoming a burden.

the effect of homework on mental health

On the flip side, not all students spend a lot of time doing homework. What takes one student an hour to complete may take another three hours. Too often educators don’t take this into account when assigning homework. According to the University of Phoenix College of Education teacher survey, high school students can get assigned up to 17.5 hours of homework each week. To top it off, a Today article reported that teachers often underestimate the amount of homework they assign by as much as 50%. Now that’s a huge miscalculation, and our nation's youth have to suffer the consequences of those errors.

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There are definitely pros and cons to doing homework. I think the bigger question that educators need to address is, “what’s the purpose of the assignment?” Is it merely a way to show parents and administration what's going on in the class? Is it a means to help keep students' grades afloat by giving a grade for completion or is the assignment being graded for accuracy? Does the assignment enhance and supplement the learning experience? Furthermore, is it meaningful or busywork?

The homework debate will likely continue until we take a good, hard look at our current policies and practices. What side of the line do you stand on when it comes to homework? Perhaps you’re somewhere in the middle?

Please weigh in with your thoughts. I am always eager to hear students’ voices in this discussion. If you are a student, please share what’s on your plate and how much time you spend doing homework each night.

Challenge Success White Paper: http://www.challengesuccess.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/ChallengeSuc…

Cooper, H., et al. (meta analysis): https://www.jstor.org/stable/3700582?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Marzano, R., et al.: http://www.marzanocenter.com/2013/01/17/have-you-done-your-homework-on-…

NEA (National Education Association): http://www.nea.org/tools/16938.htm

Pope, Brown, and Miles (2015), Overloaded and Underprepared. (Brief synopsis here: https://www.learningandthebrain.com/blog/overloaded-and-underprepared-s… )

Raychelle Cassada Lohmann Ph.D.

Raychelle Cassada Lohman n , M.S., LPC, is the author of The Anger Workbook for Teens .

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Homework as a Mental Health Concern It's time for an in depth discussion about homework as a major concern for those pursuing mental health in schools. So many problems between kids and their families, the home and school, and students and teachers arise from conflicts over homework. The topic is a long standing concern for mental health practitioners, especially those who work in schools. Over the years, we have tried to emphasize the idea that schools need to ensure that homework is designed as "motivated practice," and parents need to avoid turning homework into a battleground. These views are embedded in many of the Center documents. At this time, we hope you will join in a discussion of what problems you see arising related to homework and what you recommend as ways to deal with such problems, what positive homework practices you know about, and so forth. Read the material that follows, and then, let us hear from you on this topic. Contact: [email protected] ######################### As one stimulus, here's a piece by Sharon Cromwell from Education World prepared for teachers " The Homework Dilemma: How Much Should Parents Get Involved? " http://www.education-world.com/a_curr/curr053.shtml . What can teachers do to help parents help their children with homework? Just what kind of parental involvement -- and how much involvement -- truly helps children with their homework? The most useful stance parents can take, many experts agree, is to be somewhat but not overly involved in homework. The emphasis needs to be on parents' helping children do their homework themselves -- not on doing it for them. In an Instructor magazine article, How to Make Parents Your Homework Partner s, study-skills consultant Judy Dodge maintains that involving students in homework is largely the teacher's job, yet parents can help by "creating a home environment that's conducive to kids getting their homework done." Children who spend more time on homework, on average, do better academically than children who don't, and the academic benefits of homework increase in the upper grades, according to Helping Your Child With Homework , a handbook by the Office of Education Research and Improvement in the U.S. Department of Education. The handbook offers ideas for helping children finish homework assignments successfully and answers questions that parents and people who care for elementary and junior high school students often ask about homework. One of the Goals 2000 goals involves the parent/school relationship. The goal reads, "Every school will promote partnerships that will increase parental involvement and participation in promoting the social, emotional, and academic growth of children." Teachers can pursue the goal, in part, by communicating to parents their reasons for assigning homework. For example, the handbook states, homework can help children to review and practice what they have learned; prepare for the next day's class; use resources, such as libraries and reference materials; investigate topics more fully than time allows in the classroom. Parents can help children excel at homework by setting a regular time; choosing a place; removing distractions; having supplies and resources on hand; monitoring assignments; and providing guidance. The handbook cautions against actually doing the homework for a child, but talking about the assignment so the child can figure out what needs to be done is OK. And reviewing a completed assignment with a child can also be helpful. The kind of help that works best depends, of course, partly on the child's age. Elementary school students who are doing homework for the first time may need more direct involvement than older students. HOMEWORK "TIPS" Specific methods have been developed for encouraging the optimal parental involvement in homework. TIPS (Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork) Interactive Homework process was designed by researchers at Johns Hopkins University and teachers in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia to meet parents' and teachers' needs, says the Phi Delta Kappa Research Bulletin . The September 1997 bulletin reported the effects of TIPS-Language Arts on middle-grade students' writing skills, language arts report card grades, and attitudes toward TIPS as well as parents' reactions to interactive homework. TIPS interactive homework assignments involve students in demonstrating or discussing homework with a family member. Parents are asked to monitor, interact, and support their children. They are not required to read or direct the students' assignments because that is the students' responsibility. All TIPS homework has a section for home-to-school communication where parents indicate their interaction with the student about the homework. The goals of the TIPS process are for parents to gain knowledge about their children's school work, students to gain mastery in academic subjects by enhancing school lessons at home, and teachers to have an understanding of the parental contribution to student learning. "TIPS" RESULTS Nearly all parents involved in the TIPS program said TIPS provided them with information about what their children were studying in school. About 90 percent of the parents wanted the school to continue TIPS the following year. More than 80 percent of the families liked the TIPS process (44 percent a lot; 36% a little). TIPS activities were better than regular homework, according to 60 percent of the students who participated. About 70 percent wanted the school to use TIPS the next year. According to Phi Delta Kappa Research Bulletin , more family involvement helped students' writing skills increase, even when prior writing skills were taken into account. And completing more TIPS assignments improved students' language arts grades on report cards, even after prior report card grades and attendance were taken into account. Of the eight teachers involved, six liked the TIPS process and intended to go on using it without help or supplies from the researchers. Furthermore, seven of the eight teachers said TIPS "helps families see what their children are learning in class." OTHER TIPS In "How to Make Parents Your Homework Partners," Judy Dodge suggests that teachers begin giving parent workshops to provide practical tips for "winning the homework battle." At the workshop, teachers should focus on three key study skills: Organizational skills -- Help put students in control of work and to feel sure that they can master what they need to learn and do. Parents can, for example, help students find a "steady study spot" with the materials they need at hand. Time-management skills -- Enable students to complete work without feeling too much pressure and to have free time. By working with students to set a definite study time, for example, parents can help with time management. Active study strategies -- Help students to achieve better outcomes from studying. Parents suggest, for instance, that students write questions they think will be on a test and then recite their answers out loud. Related Resources Homework Without Tears by Lee Canter and Lee Hauser (Perennial Library, 1987). A down-to-earth book by well-known experts suggests how to deal with specific homework problems. Megaskills: How Families Can Help Children Succeed in School and Beyond by Dorothy Rich (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992). Families can help children develop skills that nurture success in and out of school. "Helping Your Student Get the Most Out of Homework" by the National PTA and the National Education Association (1995). This booklet for teachers to use with students is sold in packages of 25 through the National PTA. The Catalog item is #B307. Call 312-549-3253 or write National PTA Orders, 135 South LaSalle Street, Dept. 1860, Chicago, IL 60674-1860. Related Sites A cornucopia of homework help is available for children who use a computer or whose parents are willing to help them get started online. The following LINKS include Internet sites that can be used for reference, research, and overall resources for both homework and schoolwork. Dr. Internet. The Dr. Internet Web site, part of the Internet Public Library, helps students with science and math homework or projects. It includes a science project resource guide Help With Homework. His extensive listing of Internet links is divided into Language Art Links, Science Links, Social Studies Links, Homework Help, Kids Education, and Universities. If students know what they are looking for, the site could be invaluable. Kidz-Net... Links to places where you can get help with homework. An array of homework help links is offered here, from Ask Dr. Math (which provides answers to math questions) to Roget's Thesaurus and the White House. Surfing the Net With Kids: Got Questions? Links to people -- such as teachers, librarians, experts, authors, and other students -- who will help students with questions about homework. Barbara J. Feldman put together the links. Kidsurfer: For Kids and Teens The site, from the National Children's Coalition, includes a Homework/Reference section for many subjects, including science, geography, music, history, and language arts. Homework: Parents' Work, Kid's Work, or School Work? A quick search of this title in the Education Week Archives and you'll find an article presenting a parent's viewpoint on helping children with homework. @#@#@#@@# As another stimulus for the discussion, here is an excerpt from our online continuing education module Enhancing Classroom Approaches for Addressing Barriers to Learning ( https://smhp.psych.ucla.edu ) Turning Homework into Motivated Practice Most of us have had the experience of wanting to be good at something such as playing a musical instrument or participating in a sport. What we found out was that becoming good at it meant a great deal of practice, and the practicing often was not very much fun. In the face of this fact, many of us turned to other pursuits. In some cases, individuals were compelled by their parents to labor on, and many of these sufferers grew to dislike the activity. (A few, of course, commend their parents for pushing them, but be assured these are a small minority. Ask your friends who were compelled to practice the piano.) Becoming good at reading, mathematics, writing, and other academic pursuits requires practice outside the classroom. This, of course, is called homework. Properly designed, homework can benefit students. Inappropriately designed homework, however, can lead to avoidance, parent-child conflicts, teacher reproval, and student dislike of various arenas of learning. Well-designed homework involves assignments that emphasize motivated practice. As with all learning processes that engage students, motivated practice requires designing activities that the student perceives as worthwhile and doable with an appropriate amount of effort. In effect, the intent is to personalize in-class practice and homework. This does not mean every student has a different practice activity. Teachers quickly learn what their students find engaging and can provide three or four practice options that will be effective for most students in a class. The idea of motivated practice is not without its critics. I don't doubt that students would prefer an approach to homework that emphasized motivated practice. But �� that's not preparing them properly for the real world. People need to work even when it isn't fun, and most of the time work isn't fun. Also, if a person wants to be good at something, they need to practice it day in and day out, and that's not fun! In the end, won't all this emphasis on motivation spoil people so that they won't want to work unless it's personally relevant and interesting? We believe that a great deal of learning and practice activities can be enjoyable. But even if they are not, they can be motivating if they are viewed as worthwhile and experienced as satisfying. At the same time, we do recognize that there are many things people have to do in their lives that will not be viewed and experienced in a positive way. How we all learn to put up with such circumstances is an interesting question, but one for which psychologists have yet to find a satisfactory answer. It is doubtful, however, that people have to experience the learning and practice of basic knowledge and skills as drudgery in order to learn to tolerate boring situations. Also in response to critics of motivated practice, there is the reality that many students do not master what they have been learning because they do not pursue the necessary practice activities. Thus, at least for such individuals, it seems essential to facilitate motivated practice. Minimally, facilitating motivated practice requires establishing a variety of task options that are potentially challenging -- neither too easy nor too hard. However, as we have stressed, the processes by which tasks are chosen must lead to perceptions on the part of the learner that practice activities, task outcomes, or both are worthwhile -- especially as potential sources of personal satisfaction. The examples in the following exhibit illustrate ways in which activities can be varied to provide for motivated learning and practice. Because most people have experienced a variety of reading and writing activities, the focus here is on other types of activity. Students can be encouraged to pursue such activity with classsmates and/or family members. Friends with common interests can provide positive models and support that can enhance productivity and even creativity. Research on motivation indicates that one of the most powerful factors keeping a person on a task is the expectation of feeling some sense of satisfaction when the task is completed. For example, task persistence results from the expectation that one will feel smart or competent while performing the task or at least will feel that way after the skill is mastered. Within some limits, the stronger the sense of potential outcome satisfaction, the more likely practice will be pursued even when the practice activities are rather dull. The weaker the sense of potential outcome satisfaction, the more the practice activities themselves need to be positively motivating. Exhibit � Homework and Motivated Practice Learning and practicing by (1) doing using movement and manipulation of objects to explore a topic (e.g., using coins to learn to add and subtract) dramatization of events (e.g., historical, current) role playing and simulations (e.g., learning about democratic vs. autocratic government by trying different models in class; learning about contemporary life and finances by living on a budget) actual interactions (e.g., learning about human psychology through analysis of daily behavior) applied activities (e.g., school newspapers, film and video productions, band, sports) actual work experience (e.g., on-the-job learning) (2) listening reading to students (e.g., to enhance their valuing of literature) audio media (e.g., tapes, records, and radio presentations of music, stories, events) listening games and activities (e.g., Simon Says; imitating rhymes, rhythms, and animal sounds) analyzing actual oral material (e.g., learning to detect details and ideas in advertisements or propaganda presented on radio or television, learning to identify feelings and motives underlying statements of others) (3) looking directly observing experts, role models, and demonstrations visual media visual games and activities (e.g., puzzles, reproducing designs, map activities) analyzing actual visual material (e.g., learning to find and identify ideas observed in daily events) (4) asking information gathering (e.g., investigative reporting, interviewing, and opinion sampling at school and in the community) brainstorming answers to current problems and puzzling questions inquiry learning (e.g., learning social studies and science by identifying puzzling questions, formulating hypotheses, gathering and interpreting information, generalizing answers, and raising new questions) question-and-answer games and activities (e.g., twenty questions, provocative and confrontational questions) questioning everyday events (e.g., learning about a topic by asking people about how it effects their lives) O.K. That's should be enough to get you going. What's your take on all this? What do you think we all should be telling teachers and parents about homework? Let us hear from you ( [email protected] ). Back to Hot Topic Home Page Hot Topic Home Page --> Table of Contents Home Page Search Send Us Email School Mental Health Project-UCLA Center for Mental Health in Schools WebMaster: Perry Nelson ([email protected])

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When Is Homework Stressful? Its Effects on Students’ Mental Health

student online learning

Are you wondering when is homework stressful? Well, homework is a vital constituent in keeping students attentive to the course covered in a class. By applying the lessons, students learned in class, they can gain a mastery of the material by reflecting on it in greater detail and applying what they learned through homework. 

However, students get advantages from homework, as it improves soft skills like organisation and time management which are important after high school. However, the additional work usually causes anxiety for both the parents and the child. As their load of homework accumulates, some students may find themselves growing more and more bored.

Students may take assistance online and ask someone to do my online homework . As there are many platforms available for the students such as Chegg, Scholarly Help, and Quizlet offering academic services that can assist students in completing their homework on time. 

Negative impact of homework

There are the following reasons why is homework stressful and leads to depression for students and affect their mental health. As they work hard on their assignments for alarmingly long periods, students’ mental health is repeatedly put at risk. Here are some serious arguments against too much homework.

No uniqueness

Homework should be intended to encourage children to express themselves more creatively. Teachers must assign kids intriguing assignments that highlight their uniqueness. similar to writing an essay on a topic they enjoy.

Moreover, the key is encouraging the child instead of criticizing him for writing a poor essay so that he can express himself more creatively.

Lack of sleep

One of the most prevalent adverse effects of schoolwork is lack of sleep. The average student only gets about 5 hours of sleep per night since they stay up late to complete their homework, even though the body needs at least 7 hours of sleep every day. Lack of sleep has an impact on both mental and physical health.

No pleasure

Students learn more effectively while they are having fun. They typically learn things more quickly when their minds are not clouded by fear. However, the fear factor that most teachers introduce into homework causes kids to turn to unethical means of completing their assignments.

Excessive homework

The lack of coordination between teachers in the existing educational system is a concern. As a result, teachers frequently end up assigning children far more work than they can handle. In such circumstances, children turn to cheat on their schoolwork by either copying their friends’ work or using online resources that assist with homework.

Anxiety level

Homework stress can increase anxiety levels and that could hurt the blood pressure norms in young people . Do you know? Around 3.5% of young people in the USA have high blood pressure. So why is homework stressful for children when homework is meant to be enjoyable and something they look forward to doing? It is simple to reject this claim by asserting that schoolwork is never enjoyable, yet with some careful consideration and preparation, homework may become pleasurable.

No time for personal matters

Students that have an excessive amount of homework miss out on personal time. They can’t get enough enjoyment. There is little time left over for hobbies, interpersonal interaction with colleagues, and other activities. 

However, many students dislike doing their assignments since they don’t have enough time. As they grow to detest it, they can stop learning. In any case, it has a significant negative impact on their mental health.

Children are no different than everyone else in need of a break. Weekends with no homework should be considered by schools so that kids have time to unwind and prepare for the coming week. Without a break, doing homework all week long might be stressful.

How do parents help kids with homework?

Encouraging children’s well-being and health begins with parents being involved in their children’s lives. By taking part in their homework routine, you can see any issues your child may be having and offer them the necessary support.

Set up a routine

Your student will develop and maintain good study habits if you have a clear and organized homework regimen. If there is still a lot of schoolwork to finish, try putting a time limit. Students must obtain regular, good sleep every single night.

Observe carefully

The student is ultimately responsible for their homework. Because of this, parents should only focus on ensuring that their children are on track with their assignments and leave it to the teacher to determine what skills the students have and have not learned in class.

Listen to your child

One of the nicest things a parent can do for their kids is to ask open-ended questions and listen to their responses. Many kids are reluctant to acknowledge they are struggling with their homework because they fear being labelled as failures or lazy if they do.

However, every parent wants their child to succeed to the best of their ability, but it’s crucial to be prepared to ease the pressure if your child starts to show signs of being overburdened with homework.

Talk to your teachers

Also, make sure to contact the teacher with any problems regarding your homework by phone or email. Additionally, it demonstrates to your student that you and their teacher are working together to further their education.

Homework with friends

If you are still thinking is homework stressful then It’s better to do homework with buddies because it gives them these advantages. Their stress is reduced by collaborating, interacting, and sharing with peers.

Additionally, students are more relaxed when they work on homework with pals. It makes even having too much homework manageable by ensuring they receive the support they require when working on the assignment. Additionally, it improves their communication abilities.

However, doing homework with friends guarantees that one learns how to communicate well and express themselves. 

Review homework plan

Create a schedule for finishing schoolwork on time with your child. Every few weeks, review the strategy and make any necessary adjustments. Gratefully, more schools are making an effort to control the quantity of homework assigned to children to lessen the stress this produces.

Bottom line

Finally, be aware that homework-related stress is fairly prevalent and is likely to occasionally affect you or your student. Sometimes all you or your kid needs to calm down and get back on track is a brief moment of comfort. So if you are a student and wondering if is homework stressful then you must go through this blog.

While homework is a crucial component of a student’s education, when kids are overwhelmed by the amount of work they have to perform, the advantages of homework can be lost and grades can suffer. Finding a balance that ensures students understand the material covered in class without becoming overburdened is therefore essential.

Zuella Montemayor did her degree in psychology at the University of Toronto. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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Homework and Mental Health: Striking the Right Balance

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In today’s fast-paced and competitive education landscape, students are often faced with overwhelming academic expectations that can significantly impact their mental health. The pressure to excel academically, coupled with the demands of homework, can lead to excessive stress, anxiety, and burnout. It is crucial to find the right balance between academic responsibilities and mental well-being to ensure that students thrive both academically and emotionally.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the research surrounding homework and its effects on students’ stress levels and mental health. We will explore the link between homework and stress, examine the impact of excessive homework on students’ well-being, and, for those seeking relief, offer practical strategies to manage homework effectively or find support to do my homework for me . These insights are intended to help students, parents, and educators strike a balance that promotes both academic success and mental well-being.

The Link Between Homework and Stress

Numerous studies have investigated the relationship between homework and stress levels in students. One notable study conducted by Stanford lecturer Denise Pope found that students who reported spending more than two hours per night on homework experienced higher stress levels and physical health issues. This research highlighted the potential negative effects of excessive homework on students’ well-being.

Another study published in the Sleep Health Journal found that long hours of homework may be a risk factor for depression. This research suggests that reducing homework workload outside of class may benefit sleep quality and mental fitness. Additionally, a study presented by Frontiers in Psychology emphasized the significant health implications for high school students facing chronic stress, including emotional exhaustion and substance use.

These studies collectively indicate that excessive homework can contribute to increased stress levels among students, potentially leading to a range of negative psychological and physiological effects. It is crucial for educators and parents to be mindful of the workload they assign to students and prioritize their well-being.

The Impact of Homework on Mental Health and Well-being

Excessive homework can have far-reaching effects on students’ mental health and well-being. Understanding these effects is essential for developing strategies to mitigate the potential negative consequences. Let’s examine the psychological and physical effects of homework-induced stress on students:

Psychological Effects of Homework-Induced Stress

  • Anxiety: The pressure to perform academically and meet homework expectations can lead to heightened levels of anxiety in students. Constant worry about completing assignments on time and achieving high grades can be overwhelming.
  • Sleep Disturbances: Homework-related stress can disrupt students’ sleep patterns, leading to sleep anxiety or sleep deprivation. Lack of quality sleep negatively impacts cognitive function and emotional regulation.
  • Reduced Motivation: Excessive homework demands can drain students’ motivation, causing them to feel fatigued and disengaged from their studies. Reduced motivation may lead to a lack of interest in learning, hindering overall academic performance.

Physical Effects of Homework-Induced Stress

  • Impaired Immune Function: Prolonged stress from overwhelming homework loads can weaken the immune system, making students more susceptible to illnesses and infections.
  • Disrupted Hormonal Balance: Chronic stress triggers the release of hormones like cortisol, which can disrupt the delicate hormonal balance and lead to various health issues.
  • Gastrointestinal Disturbances: Stress affects the gastrointestinal system, resulting in symptoms such as stomachaches, nausea, and other digestive problems.
  • Cardiovascular Impact: The increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure associated with stress can strain the cardiovascular system, potentially increasing the risk of heart-related issues in the long run.
  • Brain Impact: Prolonged exposure to stress hormones may impact the brain’s functioning, affecting memory, concentration, and cognitive abilities.

It is evident that excessive homework can have detrimental effects on students’ mental and physical well-being. Balancing academic responsibilities with self-care and mental health is crucial for fostering a healthy and productive learning environment.

The Benefits of Homework

While the potential negative effects of excessive homework cannot be ignored, it is essential to recognize that homework also offers several benefits that contribute to students’ academic growth and development. Some of these benefits include:

  • Development of Time Management Skills: Completing homework within specified deadlines encourages students to manage their time efficiently. This skill extends beyond academics and becomes essential in various aspects of life.
  • Preparation for Future Challenges: Homework helps prepare students for future academic challenges and responsibilities. It fosters a sense of discipline and responsibility, qualities crucial for success in higher education and professional life.
  • Enhanced Problem-Solving Abilities: Homework often presents students with challenging problems to solve. Tackling these problems independently nurtures critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

While acknowledging these benefits, it is crucial to strike a balance between assigning meaningful homework and ensuring students’ overall well-being.

Striking the Right Balance: Strategies for Students, Parents, and Educators

Finding a balance between academic responsibilities and mental well-being is crucial for students’ overall success and happiness. Here are some practical strategies that students, parents, and educators can implement to strike the right balance:

For Students:

Effective Time Management: Create a structured study schedule that allocates sufficient time for homework, breaks, and other activities. Prioritize tasks and set realistic goals to prevent last-minute rushes and reduce feelings of overwhelm.

Break Tasks into Smaller Chunks: Large assignments can be daunting and contribute to stress. Break them into smaller, manageable parts. This approach makes the workload seem less intimidating and provides a sense of accomplishment as each section is completed.

Designate a Distraction-Free Zone: Establish a designated study area that is free from distractions like smartphones, television, or social media. This setting improves focus and productivity, reducing the time needed to complete homework.

Engage in Physical Activity: Regular exercise is known to reduce stress and enhance mood. Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine, whether it’s going for a walk, playing a sport, or practicing yoga.

Practice Relaxation Techniques: Engage in mindfulness practices such as deep breathing exercises or meditation to alleviate stress and improve concentration. Taking short breaks to relax and clear the mind enhances overall well-being and cognitive performance.

Seek Support: Reach out to teachers, parents, or school counselors when feeling overwhelmed or in need of assistance. Establish an open and supportive environment where you feel comfortable expressing concerns and seeking help.

For Parents:

Foster Open Communication: Create an environment where your child feels comfortable discussing their academic challenges and stressors. Encourage open communication about workload and provide support and guidance when needed.

Set Realistic Expectations: Recognize that each child is unique and has different capacities for handling academic pressures. Set realistic expectations for homework completion, considering their individual needs and responsibilities.

Encourage Healthy Habits: Promote a balanced lifestyle that includes sufficient sleep, physical activity, and relaxation. Encourage breaks and downtime to prevent burnout.

Collaborate with Educators: Maintain open lines of communication with teachers to stay informed about the workload and address any concerns regarding excessive homework. Advocate for a balanced approach to homework.

For Educators:

Assign Purposeful Homework: Ensure that homework assignments are purposeful, relevant, and targeted towards specific learning objectives. Emphasize quality over quantity and avoid assigning excessive workloads.

Provide Clear Instructions: Clearly communicate assignment expectations and deadlines to students. This clarity helps students plan their time effectively and reduces stress related to uncertainty.

Offer Support and Resources: Provide students with resources and support systems, such as study guides, online materials, or access to tutoring, to help them navigate their homework effectively.

Encourage Self-Care: Educate students about the importance of self-care and stress management. Incorporate discussions and activities related to mental health and well-being into the curriculum.

By implementing these strategies, students, parents, and educators can work collaboratively to strike a balance between academic responsibilities and mental well-being, fostering a positive learning environment that promotes both academic success and emotional well-being.

Finding the right balance between homework and mental health is crucial for students’ overall well-being and academic success. Excessive homework can lead to increased stress levels, negatively impacting students’ mental and physical health. By understanding the potential effects of homework-induced stress, implementing practical strategies, and fostering open communication between students, parents, and educators, we can create a supportive learning environment that prioritizes both academic growth and mental well-being. Let’s work together to ensure that students thrive academically and emotionally.

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Does Homework Cause Stress? Exploring the Impact on Students’ Mental Health

How much homework is too much?

the effect of homework on mental health

Homework has become a matter of concern for educators, parents, and researchers due to its potential effects on students’ stress levels. It’s no secret students often find themselves grappling with high levels of stress and anxiety throughout their academic careers, so understanding the extent to which homework affects those stress levels is important. 

By delving into the latest research and understanding the underlying factors at play, we hope to curate insights for educators, parents, and students who are wondering  is homework causing stress in their lives?

The Link Between Homework and Stress: What the Research Says

Over the years, numerous studies investigated the relationship between homework and stress levels in students. 

One study published in the Journal of Experimental Education found that students who reported spending more than two hours per night on homework experienced higher stress levels and physical health issues . Those same students reported over three hours of homework a night on average.

This study, conducted by Stanford lecturer Denise Pope, has been heavily cited throughout the years, with WebMD eproducing the below video on the topic– part of their special report series on teens and stress : 

Additional studies published by Sleep Health Journal found that long hours on homework on may be a risk factor for depression while also suggesting that reducing workload outside of class may benefit sleep and mental fitness .

Lastly, a study presented by Frontiers in Psychology highlighted significant health implications for high school students facing chronic stress, including emotional exhaustion and alcohol and drug use.

Homework’s Potential Impact on Mental Health and Well-being

Homework-induced stress on students can involve both psychological and physiological side effects. 

1. Potential Psychological Effects of Homework-Induced Stress:

• Anxiety: The pressure to perform academically and meet homework expectations can lead to heightened levels of anxiety in students. Constant worry about completing assignments on time and achieving high grades can be overwhelming.

• Sleep Disturbances : Homework-related stress can disrupt students’ sleep patterns, leading to sleep anxiety or sleep deprivation, both of which can negatively impact cognitive function and emotional regulation.

• Reduced Motivation: Excessive homework demands could drain students’ motivation, causing them to feel fatigued and disengaged from their studies. Reduced motivation may lead to a lack of interest in learning, hindering overall academic performance.

2. Potential Physical Effects of Homework-Induced Stress:

• Impaired Immune Function: Prolonged stress could weaken the immune system, making students more susceptible to illnesses and infections.

• Disrupted Hormonal Balance : The body’s stress response triggers the release of hormones like cortisol, which, when chronically elevated due to stress, can disrupt the delicate hormonal balance and lead to various health issues.

• Gastrointestinal Disturbances: Stress has been known to affect the gastrointestinal system, leading to symptoms such as stomachaches, nausea, and other digestive problems.

• Cardiovascular Impact: The increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure associated with stress can strain the cardiovascular system, potentially increasing the risk of heart-related issues in the long run.

• Brain impact: Prolonged exposure to stress hormones may impact the brain’s functioning , affecting memory, concentration, and cognitive abilities.

The Benefits of Homework

It’s important to note that homework also offers many benefits that contribute to students’ academic growth and development, such as: 

• Development of Time Management Skills: Completing homework within specified deadlines encourages students to manage their time efficiently. This valuable skill extends beyond academics and becomes essential in various aspects of life.

• Preparation for Future Challenges : Homework helps prepare students for future academic challenges and responsibilities. It fosters a sense of discipline and responsibility, qualities that are crucial for success in higher education and professional life.

• Enhanced Problem-Solving Abilities: Homework often presents students with challenging problems to solve. Tackling these problems independently nurtures critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

While homework can foster discipline, time management, and self-directed learning, the middle ground may be to  strike a balance that promotes both academic growth and mental well-being .

How Much Homework Should Teachers Assign?

As a general guideline, educators suggest assigning a workload that allows students to grasp concepts effectively without overwhelming them . Quality over quantity is key, ensuring that homework assignments are purposeful, relevant, and targeted towards specific objectives. 

Advice for Students: How to balance Homework and Well-being

Finding a balance between academic responsibilities and well-being is crucial for students. Here are some practical tips and techniques to help manage homework-related stress and foster a healthier approach to learning:

• Effective Time Management : Encourage students to create a structured study schedule that allocates sufficient time for homework, breaks, and other activities. Prioritizing tasks and setting realistic goals can prevent last-minute rushes and reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed.

• Break Tasks into Smaller Chunks : Large assignments can be daunting and may contribute to stress. Students should break such tasks into smaller, manageable parts. This approach not only makes the workload seem less intimidating but also provides a sense of accomplishment as each section is completed.

• Find a Distraction-Free Zone : Establish a designated study area that is free from distractions like smartphones, television, or social media. This setting will improve focus and productivity, reducing time needed to complete homework.

• Be Active : Regular exercise is known to reduce stress and enhance mood. Encourage students to incorporate physical activity into their daily routine, whether it’s going for a walk, playing a sport, or doing yoga.

• Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques : Encourage students to engage in mindfulness practices, such as deep breathing exercises or meditation, to alleviate stress and improve concentration. Taking short breaks to relax and clear the mind can enhance overall well-being and cognitive performance.

• Seek Support : Teachers, parents, and school counselors play an essential role in supporting students. Create an open and supportive environment where students feel comfortable expressing their concerns and seeking help when needed.

How Healium is Helping in Schools

Stress is caused by so many factors and not just the amount of work students are taking home.  Our company created a virtual reality stress management solution… a mental fitness tool called “Healium” that’s teaching students how to learn to self-regulate their stress and downshift in a drugless way. Schools implementing Healium have seen improvements from supporting dysregulated students and ADHD challenges to empowering students with body awareness and learning to self-regulate stress . Here’s one of their stories. 

By providing students with the tools they need to self-manage stress and anxiety, we represent a forward-looking approach to education that prioritizes the holistic development of every student. 

To learn more about how Healium works, watch the video below.

About the Author

the effect of homework on mental health

Sarah Hill , a former interactive TV news journalist at NBC, ABC, and CBS affiliates in Missouri, gained recognition for pioneering interactive news broadcasting using Google Hangouts. She is now the CEO of Healium, the world’s first biometrically powered immersive media channel, helping those with stress, anxiety, insomnia, and other struggles through biofeedback storytelling. With patents, clinical validation, and over seven million views, she has reshaped the landscape of immersive media.

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The Mental Health Impact of Excessive Homework on Students

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By Happy Sharer

the effect of homework on mental health

Introduction

Homework has been an integral part of the educational system for decades. While it is important for students to do their homework, excessive amounts of homework can have a negative impact on their mental health. The purpose of this article is to explore how too much homework affects mental health, what strategies can be used to manage the problem, and the role of parents in preventing homework-related mental health issues.

Examining the Mental Health Impacts of Excessive Homework

Examining the Mental Health Impacts of Excessive Homework

It is no surprise that too much homework can lead to stress and anxiety. Studies have shown that when students are given too much homework, they are more likely to experience symptoms of depression, including feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated, and isolated. In addition to these psychological effects, too much homework can also lead to physical ailments such as headaches, fatigue, and poor sleep.

When it comes to children, the effects of too much homework can be even more severe. Children may feel pressure to complete assignments quickly and accurately, leading to feelings of inadequacy and frustration. They may also feel like they are missing out on important social activities with their friends due to their heavy workloads.

How Balancing School Work and Social Life Can Help Manage Mental Health

Maintaining a healthy balance between school work and leisure activities is essential to managing mental health. It is important to remember that while homework is important, it should not take precedence over other aspects of life. Taking regular breaks and engaging in enjoyable activities can help reduce stress levels and improve mental wellbeing.

In addition, setting realistic expectations and creating a schedule for completing assignments can help students manage their workload. Allowing for some flexibility in the schedule can also be beneficial, as it allows for unexpected changes or delays. Furthermore, establishing a quiet, distraction-free workspace can help students stay focused and motivated.

The Role of Parents in Preventing Homework-Related Mental Health Issues

Parents can play an important role in helping their children prevent homework-related mental health issues. Talking to children about expectations and limits can help ensure that assignments are completed on time and without undue stress. It is also important to encourage communication about any difficulties children may be having with their homework. Parents should be supportive and understanding if children express feeling overwhelmed or frustrated.

In addition, parents should be mindful of the amount of time their children are spending on homework. If a child is consistently struggling to complete assignments within the allotted timeframe, it may be necessary to reassess the amount of homework given. Parents should also monitor their children’s activities to ensure that they are still engaging in leisure activities and socializing with their peers.

In conclusion, excessive homework can have a detrimental effect on students’ mental health. It is important for students to find a balance between schoolwork and leisure activities, and parents can play an important role in helping their children manage their workloads. By discussing expectations and setting limits on homework, parents can help ensure that their children are able to complete their assignments without feeling overwhelmed or stressed.

(Note: Is this article not meeting your expectations? Do you have knowledge or insights to share? Unlock new opportunities and expand your reach by joining our authors team. Click Registration to join us and share your expertise with our readers.)

Hi, I'm Happy Sharer and I love sharing interesting and useful knowledge with others. I have a passion for learning and enjoy explaining complex concepts in a simple way.

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The Impact of Working from Home on Mental Health: A Cross-Sectional Study of Canadian Worker’s Mental Health during the Third Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Aidan bodner.

1 Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada

Arti Shridhar

Shayna skakoon-sparling.

2 Department of Psychology, Toronto Metropolitan University (Formerly Ryerson), Toronto, ON M5B 2K3, Canada

Kiffer George Card

3 Institute for Social Connection, Victoria, BC V8P 5C2, Canada

Associated Data

Data used in the study analysis is stored and available on the OSF Repository ( https://osf.io/87vgs/ , accessed on 3 August 2022).

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a considerable expansion in the way work settings are structured, with a continuum emerging between working fully in-person and from home. The pandemic has also exacerbated many risk factors for poor mental health in the workplace, especially in public-facing jobs. Therefore, we sought to test the potential relationship between work setting and self-rated mental health. To do so, we modeled the association of work setting (only working from home, only in-person, hybrid) on self-rated mental health (Excellent/Very Good/Good vs. Fair/Poor) in an online survey of Canadian workers during the third wave of COVID-19. The mediating effects of vaccination, masking, and distancing were explored due to the potential effect of COVID-19-related stress on mental health among those working in-person. Among 1576 workers, most reported hybrid work (77.2%). Most also reported good self-rated mental health (80.7%). Exclusive work from home (aOR: 2.79, 95%CI: 1.90, 4.07) and exclusive in-person work (aOR: 2.79, 95%CI: 1.83, 4.26) were associated with poorer self-rated mental health than hybrid work. Vaccine status mediated only a small proportion of this relationship (7%), while masking and physical distancing were not mediators. We conclude that hybrid work arrangements were associated with positive self-rated mental health. Compliance with vaccination, masking, and distancing recommendations did not meaningfully mediate this relationship.

1. Introduction

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated many risk factors for poor mental health in the workplace. As this pandemic has intensified, with rising cases and deaths globally, so too have feelings of worry and fear in response to ongoing COVID-19 community transmission [ 1 , 2 ]. Studies from across the world have demonstrated that many workers are afraid of contracting and transmitting COVID-19 while at work [ 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 ]. Fear is an adaptive defense mechanism for humans when confronted with a risk or danger, however chronic fear can lead to adverse mental health outcomes and behaviours. In the COVID-19 pandemic, fear of COVID-19 has been associated with depression, anxiety, and even impaired job performance [ 5 ]. A Canadian study from May 2020 reported that mental health has worsened since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, due in large part to economic uncertainty and fear of illness [ 7 ]. Notably, these negative mental health effects have largely been observed in work settings that are predominantly public-facing and more exposed to viral transmission [ 3 , 4 , 5 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 ].

Alongside healthcare workers, many low-wage service workers have been deemed essential workers in Canada, and like other front-facing workers at the start of the pandemic, these workers have not always had access to safe working environments [ 3 , 13 ]. At several points in the pandemic, many workers had to attend in-person positions without widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines or public health mandates, effectively exposing them to anxiety-provoking environments. The pandemic has also heightened burdens that impact mental health among essential workers, including: adopting caretaking roles of vulnerable family members; choosing between working through illness or taking time off and facing financial losses when sick; lower job security; reduced income; greater risk of contracting COVID-19; and slashed work hours [ 10 , 14 , 15 , 16 , 17 ]. These burdens intersect with other socio-demographic factors. For example, ethnic minorities and recent immigrants in Canada are more likely to work in low-wage, public-facing positions, which highlights health equity concerns given the increased risk for COVID-19 transmission and accompanying mental health disorders in this population [ 18 , 19 ].

While mental health risks are well-known among public-facing workers, it is less clear what the mental health impacts are on workers who have been able to transition to working from home. Workers at home may experience a more complex impact of their work settings on their mental health, despite having a generally lower risk situation [ 20 , 21 , 22 ]. Although much of the research studying teleworks impacts on workers mental health during the pandemic is ongoing, several studies have already shed light on this relationship. For example, some research has shown that workers who were more afraid of COVID-19 were more productive when working from home [ 23 ]. When faced with going back to in-person work, many workers anticipate negative impacts specifically due to concerns about COVID-19 safety [ 24 ]. Conversely, telework during the pandemic has also been associated with increases in social isolation and work stress [ 23 , 25 ], family conflict [ 22 , 23 ], distractions [ 22 , 23 ], as well as food and alcohol consumption [ 22 , 26 ]—which can all negatively impact the mental health of workers [ 22 ]. A recent study from Portugal has shown that employees working from home felt like they needed to appear online and in touch with their colleagues more often, correlating depression, anxiety and stress [ 25 ].

The literature exploring differences in mental health outcomes between workers in public-facing occupations and those working from home in Canada has been sparse [ 13 , 27 ]. One study conducted in the first half of 2020 measured anxiety and depression symptoms through Generalized Anxiety Disorder 2-item (GAD-2) and Patient Health Questionaire-2 (PHQ-2) screeners. These objective measures of mental health contribute only to a narrow understanding of mental health in relation to overall wellbeing. Similarly, most of the current research has examined telework during the first waves of COVID-19. Although useful, this work may not fully capture the impact that novel interventions such as vaccines and mask mandates have on the mental health of workers. Unlike during the first waves of the pandemic, Canadians now have access to free vaccines and masks; and other risk mitigation approaches (e.g., physical distancing, ventilation) are better understood by the public. These measures may, therefore, mitigate the fear of COVID-19 and its associated stress for people working in public, front-facing jobs [ 3 ]. Conversely, we have also experienced a slow relaxation of public health orders which enforced COVID-19 protection behaviours, such as social distancing, vaccine, and mask mandates, which may increase feelings of fear or anxiety about returning to work. Thus, there is a need to explore this area further.

Furthermore, the first doses of the vaccine rollout for the general population in Canada were underway during the third wave of the pandemic in 2021, bringing about another layer of nuance to consider when assessing mental health of [ 28 ]. This development added complexity in both negative and positive directions via the potential for increased apprehension and vaccine hesitancy, as well as the potential for reduced mental distress as a result of the sense of protection offered by the vaccine [ 29 , 30 ]. Reduced mental distress due to the availability of COVID-19 vaccines may have also been more likely due to the mentally taxing events of the first and second waves which saw an overwhelmed healthcare system, deaths in long-term care facilities, and socially isolating lockdown measures [ 31 , 32 , 33 ].

Presently, at the end of the sixth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has seen jurisdictions move further away from public health orders, following roll-outs of third doses for the majority of working age adults in response to the Omicron variant [ 34 , 35 ]. It remains unclear how the ongoing need for vaccine uptake and the turbulent nature of the pandemic will impact mental health. Moreover, as many companies and organizations transitioned large numbers of staff to working from home or a hybrid of working from home and in-person work during earlier waves of the pandemic, this work will be relevant for both employers and policy makers respectively to assess the costs and benefits of different arrangements as workplaces largely return to in-person work. Determining the extent of any differences in mental health related to work-from-home status has clear health equity implications for employers and policy makers to ensure best practices throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as for future public health crises. As COVID-19 risks continue to the present day—particularly with risks such as long-COVID and unmitigated Omicron infection—it has become important to understand mental health differences according to where participants are working.

This study used survey data collected during the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada [ 36 ] to examine whether there were any differences in self-rated mental health based on work setting and if so, what contributes to these differences? The dataset provided a unique opportunity to explore the nuances of self-rated mental health, and thus, bivariable and multivariable logistic regression models were used to test the hypothesis that mental health status is poorer among individuals who are not working from home. Additionally, physical distancing and mask wearing, which have been common practice since the onset of the pandemic, will be tested as mediators due to their potential for combating pandemic-related stressors related to concerns about COVID-19 transmission [ 37 ]. A mediation analysis tested whether COVID-19 vaccination, physical distancing, and mask adherence—due to their effectiveness as COVID-19 mitigation measures—had significant and protective effects on self-rated mental health. In conducting these analyses, we hypothesized that people working from home or engaging in hybrid work arrangements had better self-rated mental health than those working exclusively in-person. We further hypothesized that the exposure to COVID-19, as reflected in lack of compliance with public safety COVID-19 prevention guidelines, would partially mediate the association between working from home and worse self-rated mental health.

2. Materials and Methods

2.1. study data.

The study utilized the Canadian Social Connection Survey (CSCS) dataset, which collected data from 21 April to 1 June 2021. The survey was circulated on the internet using paid advertising on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google. Participants were eligible if they were Canadian residents and 16 years of age or older. Ethics approval was granted by the University of Victoria Research Ethics Board (Ethics Protocol Number 21-0115) [ 36 ]. All participants provided informed consent and were able to complete the questionnaire in English or French. Given the need to determine mental health effects in various work settings, the dataset allows for a comprehensive exploration. Inclusion for the current study was conditional on whether a respondent indicated that they were working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of 2286 eligible participants completed the survey. Of these, 1917 were working during the COVID-19 pandemic. We excluded participants with missing observations on the primary outcome (i.e., self-rated mental health) and primary exposure variable (i.e., amount of work from home during COVID-19); thus, the analytic sample size for this analysis was 1576.

2.2. Study Measures

2.2.1. outcome variable.

Respondents’ self-rated mental health was the primary outcome variable for the study. This variable has previously shown a positive correlation to other mental health morbidity measures [ 38 ], but should not be conflated with other more specific diagnostic categories such as depression or anxiety [ 39 , 40 ]. Indeed, as a more global and subjective measure, many authors consider self-rated mental health as a more holistic measure of mental health outcomes which allows for a broad range of mental health issues to be captured [ 38 , 41 ], including mental health problems that are developing but which are not captured by more clinical mental health indicators [ 40 ]. Participants evaluated their current mental health on a Likert scale (At the present time, would you say your MENTAL HEALTH is: “Poor”, “Fair”, “Good”, “Very good”, or “Excellent”) (see Supplementary Materials File S1 ). The variable was dichotomized to “Negative Self-Rated Mental Health” (“Poor” and “Fair”) and “Positive Self-Rated Mental Health” (“Good”, “Very good”, and “Excellent”). This was deemed to be an acceptable (if not conservative) approach to capture a general sense of mental health status based on precedent from previous studies using self-rated mental health [ 38 ]—allowing us to explicitly identify factors associated with sub-optimal (i.e., fair or poor) mental health.

2.2.2. Primary Explanatory Variable

Work setting (listed as work_from_home in the dataset) was the primary explanatory variable for the study. The variable measured how often participants worked from home (“Not Working During COVID”, “Not at all”, “Very little of the time”, “Some of the time”, “Most of the time”, and “All of the time”). The levels “Very little of the time”, “Some of the time”, and “Most of the time” were collapsed into a single level—“Hybrid”. “Not at all” was recoded as “Do Not Work from Home” and “All of the time” was recoded as “Work from Home Only”. These levels allowed for a continuum of working from home to be represented. Participants who reported not working during COVID-19 were removed from analyses as our goal was to explore the effects among Canadian workers who were currently employed.

2.2.3. Confounding Variables

Other explanatory variables related to employment, adherence to COVID-19 mitigation measures, income, and identity were controlled for in multivariable analysis. This allowed us to isolate the effects of demographic and socio-economic factors which may otherwise play an important role in self-rated mental health while also being correlated with work setting. The included variables were household income (originally collected in increments of CAD 10,000, but binned into four groups capturing low, lower-middle, middle, and upper income groups: Less than CAD 30,000, CAD 30,000 to CAD 59,999, CAD 60,000 to CAD 89,999, CAD 90,000 or more), age (18 to 29 years-old, 30 to 39 years-old, 40 to 49 years-old, 50 to 59 years old, 60 years and older), gender (Male, Non-binary, Woman), ethnicity (White; African, Caribbean, or Black; Asian; Indigenous; Middle Eastern; Other), educational attainment (High School Diploma or Lower, Bachelor’s Degree or Higher, Some College), hours worked per week (participant-reported numeric value), national occupation class (Art, culture, recreation and sport; Business; Education, law and social, community, and government services; Health; Management; Manufacturing and utilities; Natural and applied sciences; Natural resources and agriculture; Sales and service; Trades, transport and equipment operators).

In addition to these conventional confounding variables, several additional variables were selected based on their potential to mediate the relationship between self-reported mental health and work setting. COVID-19 vaccine status and adherence to mask and/or physical distancing recommendations were identified as particularly important factors with mediation potential. These concepts were measured by asking to what extent participants wore masks in public (“Not at all”, “Somewhat”, “Very Closely”), to what extent participants practice physical distancing in public (“Not at all”, “Somewhat”, “Very Closely”), and whether participants were vaccinated (“No”, “Yes, one dose”, “Yes, two doses”).

2.3. Statistical Analysis

All statistical analyses were performed using R Statistical Software version 4.1.1 (R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria) [ 42 ]; DescTools and regclass packages were used to assist in model assessment and fitting [ 43 , 44 ]; the mice package was used for multiple imputations of missing observations [ 45 ]; and the mediation package was used for mediation analysis [ 46 ]. Missing observations on the remaining variables were imputed using multiple imputation in the mice package [ 45 ].

An initial multivariable binary logistic regression model ( Supplementary Materials File S1 ), with the outcome variable of self-rated mental health and primary explanatory variable of work setting, was constructed with 30 confounding variables. The final multivariable model was developed by running a backwards selection process favouring the model with lowest Akaike Information Criterion [ 47 ]. This process was balanced by supplementing the model with variables critical to understanding the relationship between work-setting and self-rated mental health that the backwards selection process had excluded. McFadden’s Pseudo R 2 and variance inflation factor were assessed for reasonability of model fit and collinearity, with variables exhibiting collinearity removed to arrive at a final multivariable model. Bivariable logistic regression models were constructed from the newly developed study sample between all explanatory variables and the outcome variable.

Mediation analysis was followed firstly via Baron and Kenney’s (1986) steps for determining mediation via logistic regression models and secondly by utilizing the mediate package in R with bootstrapping enabled [ 48 , 49 ]. The mediate package explicitly allows for handling of binary and logistic measures outside of a linear framework, while Baron and Kenney’s (1986) steps provide a process for reviewing bivariable and multivariable models, which has helped us to evaluate the associations between our primary exposure and outcome, primary exposure and mediator, mediator and outcome, and primary exposure while controlling for the mediator and outcome. The mediate function was then used for more rigorous tests of indirect (mediation) effects on the outcome variable [ 49 ].

3.1. Sample Overview

2286 respondents were initially included. However, 370 indicated they were not currently employed and of the remaining 1916 employed respondents, 340 were missing data on our primary measures. This resulted in 1576 participants eligible for analysis. Descriptive statistics, stratified by self-rated mental health, are presented in Table 1 . The study sample predominantly reported positive self-rated mental health (80.7%) with the majority of participants in both outcome groups responding that they work both from home and in person (hybrid); however, a greater proportion (46%) of those not working from home reported negative self-rated mental health compared to those in other work setting configurations ( Figure 1 ). In terms of demographics, 41.8% were 18 to 29 years-old; 49.9% identified as a man; 65.5% were White; 36.0% earned between CAD 30,000 and CAD 59,000 in 2020; and 51.0% had a Bachelor’s degree or higher. The average number of reported hours worked per week was 23.87; 19.9% worked in sales and service; 53.7% indicated they very closely practice physically distancing 2 metres from others; 72.8% reported very closely adhering to wearing masks in public; and 56.8% had received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

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Object name is ijerph-19-11588-g001.jpg

Work Setting and Self-Rated Mental Health.

Sample Characteristics Stratified by Self-Rated Mental Health.

OverallPositive Self-Rated Mental HealthNegative Self-Rated Mental Health -Value
1576 (100)1272 (80.7)304 (19.3)
18 to 29 years-old658 (41.8)572 (45.0)86 (28.3)<0.001
30 to 39 years-old543 (34.5)460 (36.2)83 (27.3)
40 to 49 years-old169 (10.7)115 (9.0)54 (17.8)
50 to 59 years-old119 (7.6)71 (5.6)48 (15.8)
60 years and older87 (5.5)54 (4.2)33 (10.9)
<0.001
Man787 (49.9)666 (52.4)121 (39.8)
Non-binary41 (2.6)26 (2.0)15 (4.9)
Woman748 (47.5)580 (45.6)168 (55.3)
0.0024
White1033 (65.5)824 (64.8)209 (68.8)
African, Caribbean, or Black158 (10.0)141 (11.1)17 (5.6)
Asian132 (8.4)105 (8.3)27 (8.9)
Indigenous103 (6.5)92 (7.2)11 (3.6)
Middle Eastern45 (2.9)34 (2.7)11 (3.6)
Other105 (6.7)76 (6.0)29 (9.5)
0.8181
Less than CAD 30,000474 (30.1)382 (30.0)92 (30.3)
CAD 30,000 to CAD 59,999567 (36.0)461 (36.2)106 (34.9)
CAD 60,000 to CAD 89,999376 (23.9)305 (24.0)71 (23.4)
CAD 90,000 or more159 (10.1)124 (9.7)35 (11.5)
0.013
High School Diploma or Lower187 (11.9)136 (10.7)51 (16.8)
Bachelor’s Degree or Higher804 (51.0)657 (51.7)147 (48.4)
Some College585 (37.1)479 (37.7)106 (34.9)
23.87 (16.8)22.48 (16.54)29.70 (16.74)<0.0001
<0.0001
Sales and Service313 (19.9)234 (18.4)79 (26.0)
Art, Culture, Recreation and sport102 (6.5)82 (6.4)20 (6.6)
Business228 (14.5)195 (15.3)33 (10.9)
Education, Law and Social, Community, and Government Services272 (17.3)195 (15.3)77 (25.3)
Health180 (11.4)152 (11.9)28 (9.2)
Management193 (12.2)168 (13.2)25 (8.2)
Manufacturing and utilities47 (3.0)37 (2.9)10 (3.3)
Natural and applied sciences103 (6.5)93 (7.3)10 (3.3)
Natural resources and agriculture48 (3.0)37 (2.9)11 (3.6)
Trades, transport and equipment operators90 (5.7)79 (6.2)11 (3.6)
<0.0001
Hybrid1216 (77.2)1059 (83.3)157 (51.6)
Do Not Work from Home155 (9.8)84 (6.6)71 (23.4)
Work from Home Only205 (13.0)129 (10.1)76 (25.0)
0.6947
Not at all89 (5.6)74 (5.8)15 (4.9)
Somewhat641 (40.7)521 (41.0)120 (39.5)
Very Closely846 (53.7)677 (53.2)169 (55.6)
0.0067
Not at all60 (3.8)50 (3.9)10 (3.3)
Somewhat369 (23.4)318 (25.0)51 (16.8)
Very Closely1147 (72.8)904 (71.1)243 (79.9)
<0.0001
No286 (18.1)204 (16.0)82 (27.0)
Yes, one dose895 (56.8)725 (57.0)170 (55.9)
Yes, two doses395 (25.1)343 (27.0)52 (17.1)

3.2. Regression Analysis

Bivariable associations were investigated between all explanatory variables and self-rated mental health ( Table 2 ). Associations between self-rated mental health and work setting were significant among people not working from home as well as those exclusively working from home. These groups had respectively 5.70 (95% Confidence Interval [95% CI]: 3.98, 8.15) and 3.97 (95% CI: 2.85, 5.52) greater odds of negative self-rated mental health as compared to people working in hybrid arrangements. Other significant bivariable associations with negative self-rated mental health were age (all ages over 40 years-old versus those 18 to 29 years-old) and being non-binary or a woman (vs. a man). Positive self-rated mental health was significantly associated with African, Caribbean, or Black ethnicity (vs. White) and Indigenous ethnicity (vs. White); having some college education or a Bachelor’s degree or higher (vs. high school diploma or lower); employment in business, health, management, natural and applied sciences, or trades, transport and equipment operations (vs. sales and services); and having one or two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine (vs. not having received a COVID-19 vaccine).

Bivariable and Multivariable Logistic Regression Models.

Bivariable Multivariable
95% CI 95% CI
ORLowerUpperaORLowerUpper
Do Not Work from Home
Work from Home Only
1.031.021.03
CAD 30,000 to CAD 59,9990.950.701.300.770.531.10
CAD 60,000 to CAD 89,9990.970.681.360.780.531.16
CAD 90,000 or more1.170.751.800.930.561.52
30 to 39 years-old1.200.871.661.190.831.71
40 to 49 years-old
50 to 59 years-old
60 years and older
Non-binary
Woman 1.150.861.56
African, Caribbean, or Black 0.790.431.38
Asian1.010.641.571.110.661.82
Indigenous 0.840.401.61
Middle Eastern1.280.612.48
Other1.500.942.34
Bachelor’s Degree or Higher 0.700.451.10
Some College 0.760.491.20
Art, Culture, Recreation and sport0.720.411.230.820.441.49
Business
Education, Law and Social, Community, and Government Services1.170.811.690.860.551.34
Health
Management
Manufacturing and utilities0.800.361.630.780.331.71
Natural and applied sciences
Natural resources and agriculture0.880.411.760.740.311.66
Trades, transport and equipment operators
Somewhat0.800.401.771.020.452.46
Very Closely1.340.702.851.580.713.79
Somewhat1.140.652.121.320.662.78
Very Closely1.230.712.281.020.512.20
Yes, one dose 0.710.501.02
Yes, two doses

Numeric bolding: Indicates statistical significance.

In the multivariable model, after controlling for potential confounders, negative self-rated mental health retained the association with not working from home (Adjusted Odds Ratio [aOR]: 2.79, 95% CI: 1.83, 4.26) and working from home exclusively (aOR: 2.79, 95% CI: 1.90, 4.07) versus hybrid work. Furthermore, negative self-rated mental health was significantly associated with increasing hours worked per week, being 40 years or older (vs. 18 to 29 years-old), identifying as non-binary (vs. man), Middle Eastern or Other ethnicity (vs. White), Conversely, positive self-rated mental health was associated with employment in business, health, management, natural and applied sciences, or trades, transport and equipment operations (vs. sales and services); and having two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine (vs. not having received any).

3.3. Mediation Analysis

Table 3 illustrates the results of the mediation analyses for each of the three COVID-19 prevention factors. Vaccination status was found to be a statistically significant mediator ( p = 0.02), mediating approximately 7% of the relationship between work setting and self-rated mental health; mask wearing ( p = 0.76) and physical distancing ( p = 0.20) were not found to significantly mediate the relationship. In the mediation analyses for vaccination status, the first part of the pathway between work setting and self-rated mental health, when adjusting for having received a COVID-19 vaccine, shows not working from home is significantly associated with negative self-rated mental health (aOR: 3.91, 95% CI: 2.74, 5.56). The next part of the pathway between work setting and having received a COVID-19 vaccine indicates people not working from home had lower odds of having at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine (OR: 0.52, 95% CI: 0.39, 0.70). The last part of the pathway shows a significant association between having received a COVID-19 vaccine and positive self-rated mental health (OR: 0.30, 95% CI: 0.21, 0.43).

Relationship between Work Setting (Ref = At least some of the time (Hybrid/Work from home only)), Mediators (Vaccination Status (Ref = No), Adherence to Mask Wearing Recommendations (Ref = Not at all), and Adherence to Physical Distancing Recommendations (Ref = Not at all)), and Self-Rated Mental Health (Ref = Positive).

Vaccination StatusMask WearingPhysical Distancing
WS → Vaccination
Vaccination → SRMH
WS → SRMH
Proportion Mediated (Average)
WS → Masks 0.82 (0.40, 2.00)
Masks → SRMH 1.20 (0.63, 2.54)
WS → SRMH 4.32 (3.05, 6.10)
Proportion Mediated (Average) −0.002
WS → Distancing 0.47 (0.27, 0.86)
Distancing → SRMH 1.19 (0.69, 2.18)
WS → SRMH 4.40 (3.10, 6.22)
Proportion Mediated (Average) −0.01

1 OR = Odds Ratio (95% Confidence Interval); 2 aOR = Adjusted Odds Ratio (95% Confidence Interval); * p ≤ 0.05; Numeric bolding: Indicates statistical significance; WS = Work setting; SRMH = Self-rated mental health.

4. Discussion

Primary findings.

This study represents a preliminary assessment of the relationship between work setting and self-rated mental health, controlling for relevant demographic factors, and providing several preliminary insights into the ways in which COVID-19 stressors and protections shape these relationships. In doing so, our findings show that mental health is adversely impacted for those either working exclusively from home or in person. This is in agreement with existing literature showing poor mental health among workers in public-facing workspaces across numerous international contexts [ 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 , 13 , 14 ]. Similarly, although findings of studies examining mental health effects of working from home prior to the COVID-19 pandemic have been inconsistent [ 21 ], studies exploring this increasingly normalized work setting during the pandemic have generally found working from home associated with poorer mental health outcomes [ 26 ]. This is often attributed to difficulties in establishing a work-life balance and due to feelings of isolation [ 22 , 23 , 50 , 51 ]. However, the current findings are unique in that only a handful of studies investigating the link between workplace and mental health during COVID-19 to-date have directly examined varying degrees of working from home [ 8 , 9 , 13 , 27 ] and none to our knowledge have investigated these associations during the later phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, when vaccines were made widely available. Furthermore, the majority of studies have explored the mental health of healthcare workers [ 2 , 11 , 12 , 52 ] or those in public-facing positions [ 10 ]. As such, the present study makes a valuable contribution in terms of the timing within the COVID-19 pandemic, its focus on a broad range of labour sectors, and its use of holistic self-rated mental health measures.

As such, these findings help to further research into the mental health outcomes of the Canadian workforce during the later phases of ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. One Canadian study exploring the relationship between working from home and self-rated mental health (although not of primary interest) during the first wave of the pandemic found that workers who transitioned to working from home did not differ or have affected mental health when compared to those who remained working in-person. Conversely, another Canadian study from the first wave of the pandemic found lower prevalence of depression and anxiety among respondents working from home or those working in person whose employers met all of their infection control needs [ 27 ]. These findings differ from what this study has found during the third wave, namely: both not working from home and working exclusively from home are significantly associated with negative self-rated mental health. Turning to international evidence (again from the first wave), both Gómez-Salgado et al. (2020) and Mazza et al. (2020) found poorer mental health was associated with not working from home, when compared to working from home, and not working at all, respectively. The range of evidence adds credence to our findings indicating negative mental health outcomes at either end of the work from home continuum—where workers are exclusively working from one location.

The mediation analysis found that, of the three variables tested, COVID-19 vaccination status was the only significant mediator of the effect of work setting on self-rated mental health. However, this variable mediated only approximately 7% of the effect of work setting on self-rated mental health. Both the lack of significance and the low impact of the mediation among the variables tested suggests that the prominent source of psychological stress may not arise from fear of COVID-19 infection. Although it is likely that these prevention measures may do less to mediate mental health among workers who are not continually facing risk of viral exposure, it is less clear why this would also be the case for public-facing workers. One possibility could be that, by the later phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, workplaces already tended to have high levels of COVID-19 control measures in place [ 53 ], likely reducing the contribution of the environment to stress related to concerns about viral exposure. Secondly, views on the severity of COVID-19 symptoms or susceptibility to it may have an impact on the extent that the COVID-19 prevention measures mediate mental health [ 54 ]. Lastly, uncertainty related to the unpredictable trajectory of the pandemic, such as economic concerns may present as greater stressors when compared to fears of COVID-19 infection [ 55 ].

This study also highlighted poor negative mental health among several groups. Though we did not specifically explore groups that are more likely to work from home, concerns have been raised about the well-being of ethnic minority groups who disproportionately work in public-facing occupations [ 56 ]. These sectors have experienced numerous disruptions in their capacity to operate throughout the COVID-19 pandemic [ 19 ]. This has had severe effects on members of ethnic minorities. For instance, in mid-2020, 44% and 40% of people of Arabic and West Asian ethnicity respectively, reported that the COVID-19 pandemic had moderate to strong impacts on their financial stability [ 57 ].

The identity groups associated with negative self-rated mental health—non-binary individuals and people over 40 years—are less clear in terms of contextualizing within work setting. For non-binary individuals, it is unclear whether they are more likely to work from home; however, it does appear that the pre-pandemic stressors have been compounded by COVID-19 for members of sexual and gender minorities [ 58 ]. As for middle-and-older age workers, the association with negative self-rated mental health corresponds to a general trend that mental health has worsened for all age groups in Canada since the onset of the pandemic [ 59 ]; however, it is unclear what this finding may mean in the context of other studies, indicating better mental health among older adults during the pandemic [ 60 , 61 ].

Despite COVID-19 prevention measures not emerging as a primary influencer of self-rated mental health, Canadian provinces such as British Columbia have routinely made it a priority to vaccinate frontline workers, a category of worker who cannot typically work from home [ 62 ]. Moreover, in examining other sources of economic-related stress, initial pandemic responses did see the Canadian federal government initiating supports for unemployed workers such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) in conjunction with provincial eviction bans, and to a lesser extent, rent freezes [ 63 ]. Though CERB provided support for workers financially impacted by the pandemic, workers who continued to be employed did not enjoy these benefits, despite facing the possibility of reduced work hours. Moreover, rent freezes that were widely enacted by provincial governments were largely discontinued after December 2020 [ 63 ]. Thus, despite a relatively rapid implementation of social protections in response to the arrival of COVID-19 in Canada [ 64 ], the lack of continuity of these measures coupled with pandemic uncertainty may feed into stressors affecting Canadian workers.

5. Limitations

This exploratory study has limitations but provides rationale for more rigorous investigations of the potential benefits of hybrid work. Limitations include our use of secondary data that likely does not fully capture the nuanced associations between work setting and self-rated mental health. These relationships are further simplified by our analytic choices to collapse work setting to three levels and self-rated mental health to two levels. Future studies should explore more comprehensive measures of mental health, including using specific measures of anxiety and depression. Such analyses might be feasible in large surveys, such as ours, through the use of short scales developed for large surveys, such as the PHQ-2 and GAD-2. It is possible that these more specific measures would allow for greater granularity in understanding how working conditions during an ongoing public health crisis is related to mental health and well-being—particularly in terms of the mediating effects of COVID-19 prevention on anxiety and stress (vs. depression). Qualitative research could also be used to better understand specific pathways of poor mental health for those working exclusively from home or in-person. Given limitations in measurement, the results of the current study must be interpreted with caution when considering specific psychological disorders. As well, the dataset over-represented (77.2%) individuals who work in hybrid arrangements, compared to the other two groups (exclusively working from home and exclusively working in-person). Caution should therefore be taken in interpretation, as this drastically departs from the range of Canadian workers working the majority of their hours from home—40.5% in April 2020 to 26.5% in June 2021 [ 65 ]. Lastly, as the CSCS did not include questions assessing individuals’ worry about COVID-19 exposure at work, nor how well their workplace implemented protection protocols, we were not able to account for the nuance of psychological distress related to COVID-19 infection. The measures we use to assess compliance are global and not work specific. As such, our mediation models should be interpreted as preliminary. Likewise, some measures need refined assessment in future studies. For example, to measure income, participants’ household incomes were collected in increments of $10,000 CAD. Bins of $30,000 CAD were selected with consideration of classifying individuals according to approximate thresholds for low- (e.g., Approx. $30,000 per households) and median income (approx. $90,000 per household) in Canada. As household size and cost-of living values varied, a more nuanced measure of income would have been preferred by was not available in this secondary data analysis. Personal income, adjusted for cost of living, could provide a more nuanced insight into working condition and types of work engaged in, as these parameters are undoubtedly important for understanding worker health.

6. Future Research Directions

Recognizing these limitations, as well as several opportunities to establish new lines of inquiry, we recommend that future research on the COVID-19 pandemic and future communicable disease epidemics should aim to sample a more representative group of people working from home; determine interactions between ethnic, sexual and gender minorities, and older populations; and incorporate measures of self-assessed psychological distress around workplace safety. Furthermore, as noted above, the present study did not account for important and salient factors such as living conditions, household composition, sources of material, social, and emotional support, non-work-related labor, and other undoubtedly important factors. Future research will explore these factors in relation to working arrangements. Such analyses are critical for understanding the gendered dynamics of work from home. We hypothesize that this would be a critical moderator for exploration in future research. As well, family composition and income are critical moderators for understanding how people can best be supported in distance work environments. Therefore, future research should conduct more narrow analyses or improve measurements of these key factors so that a more nuanced profile of working conditions (e.g., income, class, status, hierarchy) can be assessed in relation to our research questions. Finally, it is critical for longitudinal within person studies to continue examining the effect of work from home on individual health and wellbeing.

7. Conclusions

Given the few studies that are available assessing the effect of work setting on mental health, this study provides important data demonstrating potential hazards to mental health associated with exclusively in-person or home-based work. Hybrid models of work may therefore provide promising opportunities to improve the mental health of workers. Of course, replication will further advance our understanding of telecommuting and in-person work, particularly in the context of an ongoing public health crisis that has disproportionately impacted low-wage and marginalized people.

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the 2021 Social Connection Survey Participants for their contributions of time and attention in completing our survey.

Supplementary Materials

The following supporting information can be downloaded at: https://www.mdpi.com/article/10.3390/ijerph191811588/s1 , File S1: Independent Variables Included in Initial Multivariable Binary Regression Model.

Funding Statement

Funding for the Canadian Social Connection Survey was received from a Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) Project Grant (#480066) and a Genwell Project Research Catalyst Grant (#2021-001). KGC is funded by a Michael Smith Health Research BC Scholar Award (#1547).

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, A.B., K.G.C., A.S., and E.B.; Data curation, K.G.C.; Formal analysis, A.B.; Funding acquisition, K.G.C.; Methodology, A.B. and K.G.C.; Supervision, K.G.C.; Writing—original draft, A.B.; Writing—review & editing, A.B., L.R., E.B., A.S., S.S.-S. and K.G.C. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

Institutional Review Board Statement

The study was conducted according to the guidelines of the Declaration of Helsinki, and approved by the Institutional Review Board (or Ethics Committee) of University of Victoria (protocol code 21-0115; 9 April 2021).

Informed Consent Statement

Informed consent was obtained from all subjects involved in the study.

Data Availability Statement

Conflicts of interest.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

More From Forbes

2 reasons why parent-child ‘weight teasing’ is harmful—from a psychologist.

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Here’s why a parent’s comments on body weight have adverse and lasting effects on a child’s mental ... [+] health.

A study published in April in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy examined the mental health impact of “family weight teasing,” which refers to comments, jokes or behaviors directed at a family member about their weight, body size or eating habits.

These remarks can range from seemingly harmless to outright cruel and have significant emotional and psychological impacts regardless of their intended severity. Sadly, parental weight teasing is a prevalent phenomenon across the world.

“Due to the influence of cultural narratives surrounding bodies and health, well-intentioned parents may frequently make comments about their children’s weight, whether through teasing or encouragement to diet . Although weight talk can be harmful from any source, it is particularly harmful when perpetrated by family,” the researchers write.

Researchers found that such teasing can heighten both anxiety and depression for the person on the receiving end. Comments such as “are you sure you want to eat that?” or “looks like someone’s getting a bit of a belly!” may seem minor to the person making them, but can lead to self-consciousness, lower self-esteem and feelings of shame and guilt around food and exercise, potentially fostering an unhealthy relationship with both.

Here are two reasons why parental weight teasing negatively impacts a child’s mental health, according to the study.

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‘the boys’ season 4: why do sister sage and firecracker look so familiar, an underwater rail tunnel may link europe with africa by 2030, 1. it distorts a child’s self-image.

Research shows that if a person perceives their body weight negatively, regardless of their actual weight, it is associated with a higher risk of depression. These subjective perceptions of body weight are often based on external influences, including remarks from family members based on their own perceptions of weight and dieting, socio-cultural influences and popular media, that can fuel weight stigma and glamorize thinness.

“In recent years, cultural diet language has shifted more toward language that moralizes food such as ‘ clean eating ,’ ‘natural foods’ and labeling food as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ This moralizing language contributes to adverse psychosocial outcomes,” the researchers explain, highlighting how such language can exacerbate weight stigma and demonize essential food groups such as carbohydrates and fats.

When a person is repeatedly teased about their weight by family members, they often believe and internalize these remarks . The individual begins to see themselves as flawed or inadequate, regardless of their actual physical appearance or health. This internalized negativity can persist long after the teasing stops.

This can also create biases where the individual focuses disproportionately on their perceived flaws. Even minor changes in weight or appearance can become a source of significant distress, as the person magnifies these issues in their mind. This can lead to an obsessive preoccupation with body image.

In extreme cases, this can severely impact daily functioning, as individuals may go to great lengths to hide or fix perceived flaws, including avoiding social situations or engaging in excessive grooming.

In an attempt to cope with these challenging feelings, individuals may also resort to unhealthy behaviors such as restrictive dieting , binge eating or excessive exercise. These behaviors can further harm physical and mental health, leading to a cycle of negative body image and unhealthy attempts to change one’s appearance.

2. It Creates A Lack Of Psychological Safety

“According to attachment theory, family messages have the capacity to create environments of either safety and security or rejection and abandonment, depending on the nature of the message. Preliminary literature shows this to be particularly true when messages center beliefs about weight, body image and food,” the researchers write.

Psychological safety involves feeling secure and accepted in one’s environment without fear of being judged or ridiculed. Weight teasing breaks this sense of security. When trust is eroded, individuals may become guarded and less likely to share their feelings or seek support from their parents.

Children can start to anticipate negative comments or ridicule whenever they are around their parents. This fear can cause anxiety and stress, making the home environment a source of tension rather than comfort. The child—at any age—may feel on edge, constantly trying to avoid behaviors or situations that might trigger teasing, even though it is not their fault.

Consequently, weight teasing can deeply damage parent-child relationships, leading to hurt, resentment, mistrust and emotional distance. It also discourages authenticity, as children might change their behavior, hide their eating habits or dress differently to avoid weight-talk. Over time, this can contribute to feelings of isolation and alienation within the family, as the child no longer views their parents as a safe haven for support and comfort.

“If an individual receives hurtful comments about their weight from the people who are supposed to be their sources of support and safety, they may internalize these comments as rejection and abandonment, leading to a sense of inadequacy,” the researchers explain.

Individuals may also feel disconnected from their bodies and themselves, with the emphasis on weight and appearance narrowing their sense of identity, overshadowing positive traits and achievements. Embarrassment and shame stemming from teasing can make a person reluctant to engage in social activities where their body might be visible or where they fear further ridicule.

Family weight teasing, even when intended as harmless fun, is likely to have significant and damaging effects on a person’s mental and emotional well-being. The emotional scars from such teasing can linger for years, influencing how individuals see themselves and interact with the world.

It is crucial for parents to be mindful of the power of their words and actions. Researchers suggest using more weight-neutral, compassionate, respectful and health-centered language to combat diet culture narratives. It is also essential to challenge unhelpful perceptions around food, body size and exercise to better support oneself and one’s family in creating a truly safe home environment.

Wondering how parental weight teasing may have affected your relationship with food? Take this test to learn more: Eating Attitudes Test

Mark Travers

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Advertisement

How Heat Affects the Brain

High temperatures can make us miserable. Research shows they also make us aggressive, impulsive and dull.

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the effect of homework on mental health

By Dana G. Smith

  • June 19, 2024

In July 2016, a heat wave hit Boston, with daytime temperatures averaging 92 degrees for five days in a row. Some local university students who were staying in town for the summer got lucky and were living in dorms with central air-conditioning. Other students, not so much — they were stuck in older dorms without A.C.

Jose Guillermo Cedeño Laurent, a Harvard researcher at the time, decided to take advantage of this natural experiment to see how heat, and especially heat at night, affected the young adults’ cognitive performance . He had 44 students perform math and self-control tests five days before the temperature rose, every day during the heat wave, and two days after.

“Many of us think that we are immune to heat,” said Dr. Cedeño, now an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health and justice at Rutgers University. “So something that I wanted to test was whether that was really true.”

It turns out even young, healthy college students are affected by high temperatures. During the hottest days, the students in the un-air-conditioned dorms, where nighttime temperatures averaged 79 degrees, performed significantly worse on the tests they took every morning than the students with A.C., whose rooms stayed a pleasant 71 degrees.

A heat wave is once again blanketing the Northeast, South and Midwest . High temperatures can have an alarming effect on our bodies , raising the risk for heart attacks, heatstroke and death, particularly among older adults and people with chronic diseases . But heat also takes a toll on our brains, impairing cognition and making us irritable, impulsive and aggressive.

How heat hurts our cognition

Numerous studies in lab settings have produced similar results to Dr. Cedeño’s research, with scores on cognitive tests falling as scientists raised the temperature in the room. One investigation found that just a four-degree increase — which participants described as still feeling comfortable — led to a 10 percent average drop in performance across tests of memory, reaction time and executive functioning.

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