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August 16, 2021

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

by Sara M Moniuszko

homework

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 over 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 work loads 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 causes, 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 go home with, 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 last 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 assignments up 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."

©2021 USA Today Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Health Hazards of Homework

March 18, 2014 | Julie Greicius Pediatrics .

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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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Stanford research shows pitfalls of homework

A Stanford researcher found that students in high-achieving communities who spend too much time on homework experience more stress, physical health problems, a lack of balance and even alienation from society. More than two hours of homework a night may be counterproductive, according to the study.

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.

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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 Necessary? Education Inequity and Its Impact on Students

homework negative effect on mental health

The Problem with Homework: It Highlights Inequalities

How much homework is too much homework, when does homework actually help, negative effects of homework for students, how teachers can help.

Schools are getting rid of homework from Essex, Mass., to Los Angeles, Calif. Although the no-homework trend may sound alarming, especially to parents dreaming of their child’s acceptance to Harvard, Stanford or Yale, there is mounting evidence that eliminating homework in grade school may actually have great benefits , especially with regard to educational equity.

In fact, while the push to eliminate homework may come as a surprise to many adults, the debate is not new . Parents and educators have been talking about this subject for the last century, so that the educational pendulum continues to swing back and forth between the need for homework and the need to eliminate homework.

One of the most pressing talking points around homework is how it disproportionately affects students from less affluent families. The American Psychological Association (APA) explained:

“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.”

[RELATED] How to Advance Your Career: A Guide for Educators >> 

While students growing up in more affluent areas are likely playing sports, participating in other recreational activities after school, or receiving additional tutoring, children in disadvantaged areas are more likely headed to work after school, taking care of siblings while their parents work or dealing with an unstable home life. Adding homework into the mix is one more thing to deal with — and if the student is struggling, the task of completing homework can be too much to consider at the end of an already long school day.

While all students may groan at the mention of homework, it may be more than just a nuisance for poor and disadvantaged children, instead becoming another burden to carry and contend with.

Beyond the logistical issues, homework can negatively impact physical health and stress — and once again this may be a more significant problem among economically disadvantaged youth who typically already have a higher stress level than peers from more financially stable families .

Yet, today, it is not just the disadvantaged who suffer from the stressors that homework inflicts. A 2014 CNN article, “Is Homework Making Your Child Sick?” , covered the issue of extreme pressure placed on children of the affluent. The article looked at the results of a study surveying more than 4,300 students from 10 high-performing public and private high schools in upper-middle-class California communities.

“Their findings were troubling: Research showed that excessive homework is associated with high stress levels, physical health problems and lack of balance in children’s lives; 56% of the students in the study cited homework as a primary stressor in their lives,” according to the CNN story. “That children growing up in poverty are at-risk for a number of ailments is both intuitive and well-supported by research. More difficult to believe is the growing consensus that children on the other end of the spectrum, children raised in affluence, may also be at risk.”

When it comes to health and stress it is clear that excessive homework, for children at both ends of the spectrum, can be damaging. Which begs the question, how much homework is too much?

The National Education Association and the National Parent Teacher Association recommend that students spend 10 minutes per grade level per night on homework . That means that first graders should spend 10 minutes on homework, second graders 20 minutes and so on. But a study published by The American Journal of Family Therapy found that students are getting much more than that.

While 10 minutes per day doesn’t sound like much, that quickly adds up to an hour per night by sixth grade. The National Center for Education Statistics found that high school students get an average of 6.8 hours of homework per week, a figure that is much too high according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It is also to be noted that this figure does not take into consideration the needs of underprivileged student populations.

In a study conducted by the OECD it was found that “after around four hours of homework per week, the additional time invested in homework has a negligible impact on performance .” That means that by asking our children to put in an hour or more per day of dedicated homework time, we are not only not helping them, but — according to the aforementioned studies — we are hurting them, both physically and emotionally.

What’s more is that homework is, as the name implies, to be completed at home, after a full day of learning that is typically six to seven hours long with breaks and lunch included. However, a study by the APA on how people develop expertise found that elite musicians, scientists and athletes do their most productive work for about only four hours per day. Similarly, companies like Tower Paddle Boards are experimenting with a five-hour workday, under the assumption that people are not able to be truly productive for much longer than that. CEO Stephan Aarstol told CNBC that he believes most Americans only get about two to three hours of work done in an eight-hour day.

In the scope of world history, homework is a fairly new construct in the U.S. Students of all ages have been receiving work to complete at home for centuries, but it was educational reformer Horace Mann who first brought the concept to America from Prussia. 

Since then, homework’s popularity has ebbed and flowed in the court of public opinion. In the 1930s, it was considered child labor (as, ironically, it compromised children’s ability to do chores at home). Then, in the 1950s, implementing mandatory homework was hailed as a way to ensure America’s youth were always one step ahead of Soviet children during the Cold War. Homework was formally mandated as a tool for boosting educational quality in 1986 by the U.S. Department of Education, and has remained in common practice ever since.  

School work assigned and completed outside of school hours is not without its benefits. Numerous studies have shown that regular homework has a hand in improving student performance and connecting students to their learning. When reviewing these studies, take them with a grain of salt; there are strong arguments for both sides, and only you will know which solution is best for your students or school. 

Homework improves student achievement.

  • Source: The High School Journal, “ When is Homework Worth the Time?: Evaluating the Association between Homework and Achievement in High School Science and Math ,” 2012. 
  • Source: IZA.org, “ Does High School Homework Increase Academic Achievement? ,” 2014. **Note: Study sample comprised only high school boys. 

Homework helps reinforce classroom learning.

  • Source: “ Debunk This: People Remember 10 Percent of What They Read ,” 2015.

Homework helps students develop good study habits and life skills.

  • Sources: The Repository @ St. Cloud State, “ Types of Homework and Their Effect on Student Achievement ,” 2017; Journal of Advanced Academics, “ Developing Self-Regulation Skills: The Important Role of Homework ,” 2011.
  • Source: Journal of Advanced Academics, “ Developing Self-Regulation Skills: The Important Role of Homework ,” 2011.

Homework allows parents to be involved with their children’s learning.

  • Parents can see what their children are learning and working on in school every day. 
  • Parents can participate in their children’s learning by guiding them through homework assignments and reinforcing positive study and research habits.
  • Homework observation and participation can help parents understand their children’s academic strengths and weaknesses, and even identify possible learning difficulties.
  • Source: Phys.org, “ Sociologist Upends Notions about Parental Help with Homework ,” 2018.

While some amount of homework may help students connect to their learning and enhance their in-class performance, too much homework can have damaging effects. 

Students with too much homework have elevated stress levels. 

  • Source: USA Today, “ Is It Time to Get Rid of Homework? Mental Health Experts Weigh In ,” 2021.
  • Source: Stanford University, “ Stanford Research Shows Pitfalls of Homework ,” 2014.

Students with too much homework may be tempted to cheat. 

  • Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education, “ High-Tech Cheating Abounds, and Professors Bear Some Blame ,” 2010.
  • Source: The American Journal of Family Therapy, “ Homework and Family Stress: With Consideration of Parents’ Self Confidence, Educational Level, and Cultural Background ,” 2015.

Homework highlights digital inequity. 

  • Sources: NEAToday.org, “ The Homework Gap: The ‘Cruelest Part of the Digital Divide’ ,” 2016; CNET.com, “ The Digital Divide Has Left Millions of School Kids Behind ,” 2021.
  • Source: Investopedia, “ Digital Divide ,” 2022; International Journal of Education and Social Science, “ Getting the Homework Done: Social Class and Parents’ Relationship to Homework ,” 2015.
  • Source: World Economic Forum, “ COVID-19 exposed the digital divide. Here’s how we can close it ,” 2021.

Homework does not help younger students.

  • Source: Review of Educational Research, “ Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement? A Synthesis of Researcher, 1987-2003 ,” 2006.

To help students find the right balance and succeed, teachers and educators must start the homework conversation, both internally at their school and with parents. But in order to successfully advocate on behalf of students, teachers must be well educated on the subject, fully understanding the research and the outcomes that can be achieved by eliminating or reducing the homework burden. There is a plethora of research and writing on the subject for those interested in self-study.

For teachers looking for a more in-depth approach or for educators with a keen interest in educational equity, formal education may be the best route. If this latter option sounds appealing, there are now many reputable schools offering online master of education degree programs to help educators balance the demands of work and family life while furthering their education in the quest to help others.

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Workload and Mental Well-Being of Homeworkers

In a non-pandemic setting, this study in homeworkers helps to identify the mechanisms by which employees' workload affects their mental well-being. The results show that work-family conflict, sleeping problems, and work engagement are key variables that make the effects of workload involved in reducing the homeworkers' well-being.

Based on the Conservation of Resources theory, this cross-sectional study investigates the relationship between workload experienced by employees when working at home and their mental well-being. Work-family conflict, sleeping problems, and work engagement are proposed as mediators.

A sample of 11,501 homeworkers was drawn from the sixth wave of the European Working Condition Survey data set.

Unlike the expected, the higher the workload, the higher the mental well-being of employees. However, as expected, high workload was correlated with lower well-being when indirect effects through work-family conflict, sleep problems, and work engagement were considered. Similarly, the total effect of workload on mental well-being was negative.

Conclusions

The study suggests that organizations should pay more attention to the amount of workload experienced by their homeworkers because it may be harmful to their health and well-being.

The percentage of employees working at home has risen over recent decades. 1 This way of working is called homeworking or, sometimes with slight conceptual differences, home-based teleworking. For reasons related to the COVID-19 emergency, it has been exponentially adopted in many organizations.

Scientific literature has identified several advantages of homeworking, such as homeworkers’ greater autonomy, increased job satisfaction and flexibility to deal with work-family demands, and limited traveling and time and cost savings for both organizations and workers. 2 However, in addition to benefits, literature identified social isolation, technostress, or workaholism as potential drawbacks of homework. 3 – 7 These contrasting results about homework lead to no consensus as to whether homeworking is good or bad for homeworkers. 2 , 3 , 8 , 9

A particular concern about homework is employees’ mental well-being. Recent research suggests that working from home may affect mental well-being because this work arrangement increases work/family conflicts and employees’ feelings of loneliness. 10 , 11 Furthermore, recent studies found that working from home leads to working at higher speed, meeting tight deadlines, greater work intensification, and overworking, which affect employees’ mental well-being. 12 – 14 Accordingly, in this study, we explore if workload is related to homeworkers’ mental well-being.

Research investigating how workload influences the well-being of employees is still scarce and scant 15 , 16 ; even more limited is the literature on the effects of workload on the mental well-being of homeworkers. 11 , 12 , 17 However, recent studies conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic observed that home workers’ workload negatively influenced their well-being by increasing their work-family conflict. 11

We investigated the relationship between homeworkers’ workload and well-being for three reasons. First, we believe it is essential to explore the relationship between workload and well-being because work conditions for homework are different from work conditions experienced at the office. For instance, homeworkers may experience more intrusions from family domains during homeworking. 18 A high workload may affect homeworkers differently than office workers and employees working remotely in other locations than the home. Second, considering the increase in homeworkers during the COVID-19 pandemic and that organizations were not prepared to implement homeworking for many or most of their workforce, 19 it is crucial to explore how workload is related to homeworkers’ well-being, to assist organizations in allocating reasonable workload to homeworkers. Third, the inconsistencies about the benefits of homeworking suggest that understanding how to enhance homeworkers’ well-being considering their workload may be a valuable research avenue.

We examined the relationship between homeworkers’ workload and their well-being by investigating multiple mediators that may influence this relationship. Thus, we based our argument on the Conservation of Resources (COR) theory 20 to explain how homeworkers’ workload may significantly influence their well-being by focusing on three potential mediating variables: work-family conflict, sleeping problems, and work engagement.

Workload and Mental Well-being

Workload is the intensity or the extent of work assigned to an employee in a specific time frame. 21 Based on this definition, homeworkers’ workload can be explained as the intensity or amount of job tasks accomplished within a specific time frame during homeworking.

The COR model posits that individuals endeavor to acquire, keep, foster, and guard things that they value (such as health, well-being, and family, but also objects, such as cars or tools for work, or energy resources, such as money or knowledge) and that well-being is at risk when people perceive the threat or the actual loss of one resource. 20 , 22 According to this theory, when employees perceive or experience an increased workload, they have to use resources (eg, time and energy) to cope with it. This may result in the depletion and loss of those same resources that could have been devoted to personal commitments and social connections. This awareness causes homeworkers to experience stress, negatively affecting their mental well-being. 22

Different studies reported that workload negatively affects employees’ mental well-being, supporting the assertion made by the COR theory. For example, in a traditional work context, Aalto et al 23 conducted a study on more than 1000 physicians and found that workload was negatively associated with physicians’ mental well-being. Angioha et al 24 observed that workload significantly and negatively affected the mental well-being of 650 government workers. Other studies supported the assertion that employees’ workload negatively affects their mental well-being. 25 – 27 We argue that the same process is also valid for homeworkers since previous studies 12 – 14 found that homeworkers are exposed to higher work intensification, work at high speed to meet tight deadlines, and overwork during a limited remote work time. Therefore, based on COR theory and the review of literature, we posit that:

  • H1 : Workload experienced by homeworkers is negatively related to their mental well-being.

Workload, Work-Family Conflict, and Mental Well-being

Work-family conflict is a topic widely explored in organizational literature because of its impact on individual and organizational outcomes. 28 It expresses the role conflict occurring because of incompatible demands between work and family domains. 29 Prior research has shown that the work-family conflict experienced by employees is significantly predicted by workload, 30 a result in line with the COR theory. In fact, the COR theory posits that people strive to obtain and conserve essential resources for social bonds such as family and friends. 20 , 22 Therefore, increased workload implies that individuals have to decrease the time and energy devoted to family members and family needs to meet the increased workload. Spending more time working because of a higher workload may often leave homeworkers emotionally exhausted, physically drained, and unable to have time and energy for family activities. 31 Faced with increased time and energy devoted to work rather than family, homeworkers may struggle to meet family needs, leading to work-family conflict.

In turn, work-family conflict may negatively affect employees’ work engagement. 28 , 32 A high work-family conflict requires resources to manage it, leaving workers with fewer resources to invest and diminishing employees’ work engagement. Obrenovic et al 33 explained that work-family conflict diminishes employees’ mental resources, affecting work engagement. Other studies indicated that work-family conflict experienced by workers negatively and significantly affects their work engagement. 32 , 34 In light of these empirical findings, we extend these results to homeworkers and, therefore, expect that their work-family conflict may negatively affect their work engagement.

The second corollary of the COR theory provides key cues to understand better the relationship between workload, work-family conflict, and well-being. This corollary emphasizes the spiral nature of resource loss and suggests that the initial loss of resources threatens the conservation of the remaining resources. 22 Hobfoll et al 22 explain that “because resource loss is more powerful than resource gain, and because stress occurs when resources are lost, individuals and organizations have fewer resources to offset resource loss at each iteration of the stress spiral. This creates resource loss spirals whereby losses gain in both impact and momentum” (p 107). Therefore, the initial loss of time and energy resources because of a higher workload threats the possibility to use the remaining resources, such as those related to relationships with family members. The actual loss of resources due to higher workload and the perceived threat of losing another resource, in this case, the family support resulting in work-family conflict, may gain both impact and momentum and further threaten other resources (eg, health and well-being), generating a spillover effect or what Hobfoll calls “spiral loss.” Building on the spiral loss of resources of the COR theory, we expect that the workload experienced by homeworkers is positively related to employees’ work-family conflicts, which in turn is negatively related to mental well-being. Therefore, we propose the following hypotheses:

  • H2a : Workload experienced by homeworkers is positively related to work-family conflict.
  • H2b : Homeworkers’ work-family conflict is negatively related to work engagement.
  • H2c : Homeworkers’ work-family conflict is negatively related to mental well-being.
  • H2d : The negative relationship between workload experienced by homeworkers and mental well-being is mediated by work-family conflict.

Workload, Sleeping Problems, and Mental Well-being

According to the empirical study by Aalto et al, 23 an increase in workload may negatively affect employees’ quality of sleep, leading to sleeping problems. Similar results also emerged from the research by Huyghebaert et al, 15 who found that increased workload might lead to impaired sleep quality and consequent emotional exhaustion. A meta-analysis of 79 studies conducted by Nixon et al 35 found that employees reporting higher workload reported sleeping problems due to the stress and exhaustion accompanying high workload. Based on this literature, we propose extending these findings to homeworkers by posing that their workload is significantly and positively related to their sleeping problems.

Sleeping problems are related to decreased work engagement. 36 According to Barber et al, 36 this occurs because a good sleep quality helps replenish and enhance self-regulatory resources after being exhausted or drained. On the contrary, sleeping problems may hinder a person from restocking self-regulatory resources depleted throughout the day. Accordingly, COR theory's desperation principle argues that people enter into a defensive mode to conserve remaining resources when previous ones have been stretched and drained. 22 This implies that employees would be less inclined to invest more resources into the tasks they have to accomplish when their self-regulatory resources have not been fully replenished due to sleeping problems. 37 Hence, it is possible to expect that homeworkers’ sleeping problems may harm their work engagement.

Prior studies found a relationship between sleeping problems and employees’ mental well-being. 38 , 39 The rationale of this result is that sleep is crucial in the optimum physiological and human psychological functioning, 36 and individuals who experience sleeping problems have poorer mental well-being than individuals not having such problems. 40 In fact, sleeping problems influence people's moods and emotions, leading to anxiety and depression. 40 , 41 This scenario is fully compatible with the spiral loss of resources in the COR theory. Hence, we expect that sleeping problems experienced by homeworkers because of increased workloads would have a significant adverse effect on their mental well-being. In particular, we believe that homeworkers’ workload may result in sleeping problems, which, in turn, decrease mental well-being. Thus, we posit that

  • H3a : Workload experienced by homeworkers is positively related to sleeping problems.
  • H3b : Sleeping problems experienced by homeworkers are negatively related to work engagement.
  • H3c : Sleeping problems experienced by homeworkers are negatively related to mental well-being.
  • H3d : Homeworkers’ workload has a negative indirect effect on well-being via the mediation of sleeping problems.

Workload, Work Engagement, and Mental Well-Being

Work engagement is defined as “a positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption” 42 (p 74). Empirical findings show that workload decreases employees’ work engagement. 43 – 45 At the same time, the desperation principle of COR theory states that people get into a state of defensive mode to preserve resources when previous resources have been stretched and drained. 22 According to this rationale, workers would be less inclined to invest more resources into their work tasks when they feel too exhausted or physically drained due to the high workload. Hence, even homeworkers who experience the loss of resources such as time and energy due to increased workload may not be able to invest more time and energy into their work tasks, thereby negatively affecting their work engagement. Therefore, we propose that homeworkers’ workload negatively affects work engagement.

Regarding the effects of work engagement on the mental well-being of employees, Radic et al 46 suggested that more studies should examine this relationship. However, the existing research on work engagement and mental well-being found, in general, a positive relationship between these two constructs. 47 – 49 Yang et al 50 argue that work engagement is among the most significant drivers of job performance and the effort employees put into their work, thus increasing mental well-being. Therefore, work engagement should, in turn, contribute to self-development, leading to increased mental well-being. This expectation is in line with COR theory and, in particular, its second and third corollaries about resource loss cycles and gains spirals. Considering work engagement as a motivational resource, from which to obtain energy and dedication to important activities for individuals, 42 in the gain spiral, an increase in work engagement should lead to an increase in personal well-being, and likewise, a loss of engagement should worsen employees’ well-being. Based on the reviewed literature, we suggest that homeworkers’ workload is negatively related to work engagement, which, in turn, is positively related to mental well-being. Hence, we propose the following hypotheses:

  • H4a : Workload experienced by homeworkers is negatively related to work engagement.
  • H4b : Homeworkers’ work engagement is positively related to mental well-being.
  • H4c : There is a negative indirect effect of homeworkers’ workload on mental well-being via work engagement.

Finally, considering the mediation effect of work engagement between workload and mental well-being, the direct effect of workload on work-family conflict (H2a) and sleeping problems (H3a), and also the direct effect of work-family conflict (H2b) and sleeping problems (H3b) on work engagement, we posit two sequential mediation effects:

  • H4d : There is a negative indirect effect of homeworkers’ workload on mental well-being via work-family conflict and work engagement.

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Research model for the study.

METHODOLOGY

Data sources.

The present study used data from the European Working Condition Survey (EWCS) conducted every 5 years, since 1990, by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. 51 The EWCS is a large-scale survey that provides cross-sectional data using random samples of workers in European countries, focusing on their work-life balance, working conditions, health, employment conditions, working environments, and well-being. 52 The Eurofound is a European Union body established by the European Council to offer better information and expert counsel on workers’ living conditions, changes in industrial relations and management among European countries, and contribute to the design and improvement of working and living conditions of workers in Europe. 52 Researchers have highly recognized the quality of the EWCS data set. 53 , 54

We used data of the sixth wave of EWCS collected in 2015, the most recently available data set as of the writing of this contribution. 51 The sampling procedure used for the survey was a multistage and stratified random sampling where each country was stratified into strata based on the geographical region and the level of urbanization. For our study, we extracted from the data set only respondents who reported having worked at home, answering to the following item: “How often have you worked in each location during the last 12 months—Your own home?” Participants that selected “never” were excluded from the study, whereas participants who selected “less often” to “daily” were included in the study. As a result, we obtained a sample of 11,501 homeworkers from 35 different countries.

The scales of the Eurofound survey used in this study are reported below. For all the scales, we reversed the data so that the higher the score, the higher the presence of the variable.

Workload: Two items, on a Likert scale from 1 (never) to 7 (all of the time), were used to measure homeworkers’ workload. The two items are as follows: “Does your job involve working to tight deadlines?” and “Does your job involve working at very high speed?”

Work-family conflict: Work-family conflict was measured using three items on a 5-point Likert scale from 1 (never) to 5 (always). The items are as follows: “How often have you… 1) kept worrying about work when you were not working? 2) felt too tired after work to do some of the household jobs which need to be done? and 3) found that your job prevented you from giving the time you wanted to your family?”

Sleeping problems: Sleeping problems were measured using three items on a Likert scale of 5 points (from 1 = never to 5 = daily). Items required to indicate how often, in the last 12 months, respondents experienced sleep-related problems (“difficulty falling asleep,” “waking up repeatedly during the sleep,” or “waking up with a feeling of exhaustion and fatigue”).

Work engagement: A three-item version of the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale 55 measured employees’ work engagement. A 5-point Likert scale was used, from 1 (never) to 5 (always). The items are “At my work, I feel full of energy,” “I am enthusiastic about my job,” and “Time flies when I am working.”

Mental well-being: Mental well-being was measured using the Well-Being Index developed by the World Health Organization in 1998, popularly known as the WHO (5) well-being index. The scale consists of five items on a Likert scale of 6 points, from 1 (at no time) to 6 (all of the time). Samples of items are “Been feeling over the last 2 weeks—I have felt cheerful and in good spirits” and “Been feeling over the last 2 weeks—My daily life has been filled with things that interest me.”

Control variables: The frequency of homework has multiple effects on homeworkers’ well-being. 56 , 57 Therefore, we created a dichotomous variable distinguishing the respondents working at home less frequently (grouping together those who responded “several times a month” and “less often,” coded as 1, N low = 5821) or more frequently (grouping together those who responded “several times a week” and “daily,” coded as 2, N high = 5860). Afterward, we tested the direct influence of this variable on the dependent variables of the model.

Data Analysis

Before the other analyses, an exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was run to check whether each item of the research instrument saturated in the factor theoretically related to it and to carry out a Harman single factor test to check for common method bias. 58 The EFA was conducted using the maximum likelihood and the Oblimin rotation.

To assess the measurement model and the structural validity of the measures, we ran two confirmatory factor analyses (CFAs), one grouping items in their expected factor and one grouping all the items in a single factor. To assess convergent and divergent validity and the reliability of the scales, we computed, respectively, the average variance extracted (AVE), the maximum shared variance (MSV), and composite reliability (CR). Cronbach alpha was computed for each variable in the study. Descriptive statistics and correlations among variables were then calculated.

Finally, the hypothesized model was investigated using structural equation modeling (SEM). We used the maximum likelihood in the SEM environment to estimate model parameters. We used Fornell and Larcker's 59 and Hair et al's 60 indications to evaluate models’ fit and to use appropriate cutoffs. Following Hair et al, 60 we favored measures such as Root Mean Square Error of Approximation (RMSEA) (cutoff, <0.08) and the incremental measures of Comparative Fit Index (CFI) and Tucker–Lewis Index (TLI) (cutoff, >0.90) over measures such as the χ 2 , unreliable in this case because of its high sensitivity to sample size, for evaluating the models’ goodness of fit. We used SPSS 27 and Mplus 8 to perform all analyses.

Sample Characteristics

The extraction, from the entire EWCS data set, of the employees engaged in partial or total work-from-home activities resulted in the consideration of 11,501 workers. Participants were, on average, 45.5 years old (SD, 12.9); 48% were female, and 52% were male. Employees working in the private sector were 65.5%, whereas 22.9% reported working in the public sector. The average work hours in a week, intended as the sum of work in the office and at home, was 38.3 (SD, 14.9). Three tenth of the participants (29.1%) worked daily from home; about one fifth of them (20.2%) answered having worked from home several times a week, and the remaining respondents (50.6%) worked from home less frequently. Table ​ Table1 1 summarizes the sociodemographic characteristics of the participants.

Demographic Characteristics of the Research Participants (N = 11,501)

Exploratory Factor Analysis, CFAs, Validity, and Reliability of the Scales

The EFA showed no problems with the measurement instruments: the extracted five factors explained 67.05% of the variance, and each one was composed of the expected items with good factor loadings (minimum factor loading, 0.53). Harman single factor test, which forced the extraction of a single factor, demonstrated the absence of common method bias because the extracted single factor explained only 29.37% of the variance. After these preliminary analyses, we continued with the data analysis. Although we decided to test our research model using structural equations, following Hair et al, 60 we assessed the measurement model through CFAs. In particular, to exclude the absence of a common latent factor and assess the independence of the five measures, we conducted two CFAs, comparing a one-factor model grouping all the study items with a five-factor model in which each item saturated in its expected factor. The results showed that the one-factor model had a very poor fit ( χ 2 = 25,401.97; df = 104; P < 0.001; CFI = 0.56; TLI = 0.50; RMSEA = 0.15; Standardized Root Mean Squared Residual (SRMR) = 0.11). On the other hand, the fit of the five-factor model ( χ 2 = 2831.54; df = 94; P < 0.001; CFI = 0.95; TLI = 0.94; RMSEA = 0.05; SRMR = 0.04) was satisfying, implying structural validity of the model measures. For this model, all items reported saturation values in their factor higher than 0.50.

The minimum AVE score for the five scales was 0.46. Each value was greater than the corresponding MSV score (the highest MSV was 0.35). Furthermore, the square root of each AVE value was higher than the correlations between each considered variable and the other latent constructs, indicating discriminant validity. 59 All the CR values were over the 0.70 cutoff 60 and in the range 0.72 to 0.83, suggesting good reliability of the measures. Finally, according to Fornell and Larcker, 59 although AVE values were slightly lower than the 0.50 cutoff for three of the five study variables (AVE WFC = 0.46, AVE WENG = 0.49, and AVE W-BEING = 0.49), since CR was in every case higher than 0.60 (and 0.70), the convergent validity of the constructs has been considered adequate.

Cronbach Alphas, Descriptive Statistics, and Correlations Among Variables

Cronbach alphas for the five scales of the model showed values all above the threshold of 0.70, confirming excellent reliability of the model scales again. Together with means, standard deviations, and correlations, such values are reported in Table ​ Table2 2 .

Means, Standard Deviation, and Pearson Correlations Among the Study Variables

N = 11,501.

* P < 0.01.

** P < 0.01.

The average workload reported by homeworkers tended toward high values (mean, 3.56; SD, 1.74), suggesting that homeworkers reported working with moderately tight deadlines and at a high pace. Homeworkers reported having experienced limited level of work-family conflict (mean, 2.60; SD, 0.90) and limited sleeping problems (mean, 2.18; SD, 1.00). On the other side, homeworkers were in many cases engaged with their work (mean, 4.00; SD, 0.67) and in a condition of mental well-being (mean, 4.59; SD, 0.96).

Focusing on the correlations, Table ​ Table2 2 shows that workload was positively correlated with work-family conflict ( r = 0.37, P < 0.001) and sleeping problems ( r = 0.17, P < 0.001), but negatively correlated with mental well-being ( r = −0.03, P = 0.003). Work-family conflict was positively correlated with sleeping problems ( r = 0.35, P < 0.001) and negatively correlated with mental well-being ( r = −0.28, P < 0.001). Sleeping problems had a significant negative association with work engagement ( r = −0.24, P < 0.001) and mental well-being ( r = −0.40, P < 0.001), whereas work engagement had a positive correlation with mental well-being ( r = 0.44, P < 0.001).

Model Testing

The hypothesized model was tested using SEM. In this model, the control variable of the frequency of homeworking was tested on the mediational variables of work-family conflict and work engagement, since no significant correlations were instead obtained between this control variable and, respectively, sleeping problems and mental well-being.

The model as a whole, with the errors of the variables work-family conflict and sleeping problems correlated to improve the closeness of the model to the reality described by data, reported an adequate fit ( χ 2 = 3022.73; df = 107; P < 0.001; CFI = 0.95; TLI = 0.94; RMSEA = 0.05; SRMR = 0.04). In addition, all the measured items reported saturation values greater than 0.50 in their latent factors, confirming the CFA results and the good validity of the measures. Figure ​ Figure2 2 depicts the model results.

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Model standardized results. All the relationships are significant for at least P < 0.01.

According to the model results, the relationship between homeworkers’ workload and mental well-being was small but positive ( β = 0.04, P = 0.001; confidence interval [CI], 0.02 to 0.06). Thus, H1 was not verified, since the hypothesized relationship is significant but, contrary to expectations, positive.

Workload significantly and positively influenced work-family conflict ( β = 0.50, P < 0.001; CI, 0.49 to 0.52; hypotheses H2a supported). In turn, work-family conflict negatively affected work engagement ( β = −0.15; P < 0.001; CI, −0.18 to −0.13) and mental well-being ( β = −0.13, P < 0.001; CI, −0.16 to −0.11). Thus, H2b and H2c were fully supported. Even H2d was supported, and Table ​ Table3 3 shows the indirect effect of homeworkers’ workload on mental well-being via work-family conflict ( β = −0.07; P < 0.001; CI, −0.08 to −0.05).

Indirect Effects of Workload on Mental Well-Being Through the Mediators (H2d, H3d, H4c, H4d, and H4e)

MWB, mental well-being; SP, sleeping problems; WE, work engagement; WFC, work-family conflict; WLD, workload.

* P < 0.001.

Regarding the hypotheses about sleeping problems, H3a was supported because homeworkers’ workload was positively related to sleeping problems ( β = 0.23; P < 0.001; CI, 0.21 to 0.25). Sleeping problems was negatively related to work engagement ( β = −0.30; P < 0.001; CI, −0.32 to −0.28) and mental well-being ( β = −0.28; P < 0.001; CI, −0.30 to −0.26), supporting also H3b and H3c. Furthermore, the indirect effect of homeworkers’ workload on mental well-being via sleeping problems was also significant ( β = −0.06; P < 0.001; CI, −0.07 to −0.06), supporting hypothesis H3d (Table ​ (Table3 3 ).

Finally, an unexpected result was observed between homeworkers’ workload and work engagement. Workload was positively, rather than negatively, related to work engagement ( β = 0.09, P < 0.001; CI, 0.07 to 0.11). Hence, hypothesis H4a was not supported, although the relationship is significant and opposite to the hypothesis. However, as expected, homeworkers’ work engagement significantly and positively affected mental well-being ( β = 0.47, P < 0.001; CI, 0.45 to 0.49), supporting hypothesis H4b. Homeworkers’ workload showed also an indirect effect on mental well-being via work engagement ( β = 0.04; P < 0.001; CI, 0.03 to 0.05) (Table ​ (Table3), 3 ), supporting hypothesis H4c.

Indirect effects were then observed even in the two serial mediations. The mediations between workload and mental well-being via work-family conflict and work engagement ( β = −0.04; P < 0.001; CI, −0.04 to −0.03), and also that one via sleeping problems and work engagement ( β = −0.03; P < 0.001; CI, −0.04 to −0.03) were significant, thus supporting H4d and H4e.

Finally, the total indirect effect of workload on mental well-being, through the multiple mediators, as shown in Table ​ Table3, 3 , was negative and significant ( β = −0.16; P < 0.001; CI, −0.17 to −0.14). Hence, the negative indirect effects of workload on mental well-being are higher than the positive direct effect of these two variables; as a result, the total effect of the relationship between workload and mental well-being, calculated as the sum of direct and indirect effects, is therefore negative ( β = −0.12; P < 0.001; CI, −0.14 to −0.10).

Lastly, the control variable of frequency of homeworking revealed significant relationships with the tested variables. Positive, although small, effects were found between frequency of homeworking and, respectively, work-family conflict ( β = 0.06 P < 0.001; CI, 0.05 to 0.08) and work engagement ( β = 0.06 P < 0.001; CI, 0.04 to 0.07).

This study used the COR theory as theoretical background to investigate the relationship between homeworkers’ workload and mental well-being and the mediating effect of work-family conflict, sleeping problems, and work engagement. In light of this approach, we expected that employees’ workload at home was positively related to work-family conflict and sleeping problems and negatively related to work engagement. Furthermore, we expected that work engagement was, in turn, negatively related to work-family conflict and sleeping problems and positively related to mental well-being.

Most of our study hypotheses were supported. Homeworkers’ workload positively affected work-family conflict, sleeping problems, and, surprisingly, work engagement and had a total negative effect on mental well-being.

The positive effect of the workload on work-family conflicts and sleeping problems was also observed in previous studies reporting the positive effect of workload on work-family conflict 30 and sleeping problems 15 , 23 , 61 in employees working at official sites of their organization. Our result extends findings observed in the official workplace to the field of homework and confirms the applicability of COR theory to homeworking. Investing time and energy resources to cope with an increased workload may result in the depletion of energy resources needed to balance work and family life and have a good quality of sleep, consequently affecting mental well-being resulting from the stress experienced from the loss of resources.

However, study findings also reveal an unexpected result by reporting a positive relationship between workload on work engagement. This unexpected finding, although small ( β = 0.09; P < 0.001; CI, 0.07 to 0.11), is contrary to the one found by Ladyshewsky and Taplin, 62 who reported that workload negatively affects work engagement. Although this result was unexpected, other studies support the evidence reported in this research, suggesting that workload may not always be harmful but, in some cases, may have a positive effect on work engagement. 43 – 45 , 63 In other words, the workload may not always have a detrimental effect on work engagement. Instead, the relationship between these two variables could be curvilinear in the homeworking context, as already observed in the usual workplace. 45

Considering that workload was positively related to work-family conflict, sleeping problems, and, at the same time, also positively related to work engagement, our findings support previous studies that identified workload both as a hindrance and a challenge stressor 44 , 63 that increases employees’ work engagement to completing their challenging work, while also impacting work-family conflict and sleeping problems that diminish employees’ energy. 43

Focusing on the relationship between workload and well-being, we point out that, although the direct relationship was small but positive ( β = 0.04; P = 0.001; CI, 0.01 to 05), the total effect of workload on mental well-being, as mentioned above, was instead significant and negative ( β = −0.12; P < 0.001; CI, −0.14 to −0.10), thus suggesting that the three mediators in our model contribute to establishing that too much workload is negative for homeworkers. Therefore, this suggests that intervening in those factors (work-family conflict, work engagement, and sleeping problems) could reduce the negative effect of the workload on homeworkers’ well-being.

The importance of those three mediators is also confirmed by the simple direct relationships they have with mental well-being. This study shows that work-family conflict is negatively related to work engagement and mental well-being, thus supporting prior studies on work engagement 28 , 32 , 34 and employees’ well-being 33 , 64 and extending those findings to homeworkers. Although other studies used different theoretical approaches, our results are also coherent with the spiral loss of resources of the COR theory. Sleeping problems experienced by homeworkers had a significant adverse effect on work engagement and well-being, consistently with previous studies conducted in other contexts. 36 – 39 Based on the COR theory’s desperation principle, homeworkers may be less inclined to invest more resources into their work task (work engagement) when their self-regulatory resources have not been fully replenished due to sleeping problems. 37 The loss of this resource, in turn, may explain the loss of the other resource, which is well-being. Thus, our study sheds light on the potential mechanism that the resource loss of time and energy due to high workload compromises sleep quality, leading to the loss of other resources such as well-being.

Finally, despite the frequency of homeworking was marginally related to work-family conflict and work engagement, this variable was not related to mental well-being * . However, we believe that this latter result is also an interesting research finding because it suggests that workers’ mental well-being is not related to the mere frequency of homeworking, but to characteristics of the task and the context in which homeworking is carried out. Nevertheless, we believe these results should be read with caution and also interpreted considering other studies that suggest a curvilinear relationship between frequency of homeworking and some worker satisfaction outcomes. 56 , 57

THEORETICAL AND PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS

In this study, we contributed to the literature on the relationship between workload and well-being in the context of homework by simultaneously exploring the mediational variables of work-family conflict, sleeping problems, and work engagement.

From a theoretical point of view, since research on the effect of workload on homeworkers’ well-being is limited, 15 , 16 we believe our findings, framed in the COR theory, 22 contribute to homeworking literature by showing that homeworkers’ workload has, on the whole, a negative impact on mental well-being and that workload contributes to increased work-family conflict, sleeping problems, and also work engagement that, in turn, affect mental well-being. This result is coherent with the resource caravans’ principle of the COR theory, which suggests that resources, or threats of resources, do not exist individually but travel in packs. 22 Thus, workload threatens mental well-being because it affects, at least, other two aspects that can become potential stressors, such as sleep and family relations.

Our results also show that workload is positively related to work engagement and positively related to mental well-being. Considering the second principle of the COR theory, which states that individuals invest resources to protect against resource loss, it seems that employees dedicate time, energy, and mental resources to work (in other words, become more engaged in their work) to compensate the adverse effects of the workload. Hobfoll et al 22 suggest that individuals, over time, learn how to adapt to stressors and how to use their resources effectively. Thus, a possible explanation of this result is that employees know that workload negatively impacts individual and family resources and, to mitigate such effects, they increase their work engagement to manage their work tasks, complete them quickly and effectively, and dedicate the remaining time to family duties or free time.

On the other side, our study also confirms that workload as a challenging or a hindrance stressor. 43 – 45 According to our results, the workload is related to both negative (increased work-family conflict and sleeping problems) and positive outcomes (work engagement), which confirms a complex relationship between workload and employees’ well-being that depends on the mediators included in the studies. Our findings suggest that workload is not only a threatening stressor but also a resource that enhances, through work engagement, employees’ mental well-being. Montani et al 45 observed that the relationships between workload and work engagement may be curvilinear. Thus, future studies should investigate under which conditions the positive sides of homework workload are observed and how positive and negative effects of workload coexist.

From a practical point of view, this research provides some insights that may help organizations and managers coordinate employees’ work. High amounts of workload are associated with work-family conflict and sleep problems, and these threaten the mental well-being of their employees, potentially affecting their effectiveness at work. On the other hand, we guess that a moderate extent of workload, compared with too low or too high, might enhance employees’ engagement with their work, leading them to feel better and, potentially, work better. Therefore, organizations should pay attention to employees’ workload and identify and avoid to assign tasks, with a too high or low workload to favor employees’ well-being and maximize their efforts.

Our study points out that offering homeworking alone may not be enough. Organizations implementing homeworking should also implement strategies to contain work-family conflict (eg, by considering employees’ childcare needs) and sleeping problems (eg, by promoting proper sleep-wake rhythms, including working on the proper use and correct timing of homework), as well as interventions aimed at fostering work engagement. Such organizational interventions seem promising directions to ensure that workload does not affect the mental well-being of homeworkers.

LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE RESEARCH

This study has different limitations. In particular, it used a cross-sectional research design, which limits the causal inferences between study variables. In addition, the cross-sectional mediational analysis may show mediational effects that exaggerate indirect effects among study variables that are different from effects observed using longitudinal studies or multiwave design. 65 To lessen this limitation, we used a large sample size to diminish biases in regression estimates because of measurement errors. 66 Furthermore, we point out that the study design does not exclude the possibility of reverse mediations between the investigated variables. For these reasons, future research may use a longitudinal design approach to more appropriately support the evidence found here.

Furthermore, another major limitation of the study is that data were collected before the COVID-19 pandemic. Although there are no rational reasons to think about changes in the tested relationships, future studies should verify if, in a postpandemic scenario, the conclusions drawn may still be applicable. Finally, we point out that this study used self-reported measures. Thus, they may lead to exaggeration or understatement on the part of the participants opening up to the tendency of common method bias, which may compromise the study's validity. Therefore, future studies using multirater measures should address this issue.

The present study sheds light on the underlying mechanisms of workload affecting employees’ mental well-being. Findings suggest that the workload experienced by homeworkers is related to work-family conflict, sleeping problems, and work engagement, which, in turn, affect mental well-being. This study contributes to the literature by providing new evidence on the relationship between workload and well-being, offering insights for academic research and organizational interventions on the complex relationship between workload and well-being in homeworkers. We conclude that organizations just offering homeworking without considering needs and duties when working at home are not enough to improve the well-being of homeworkers. Further work on appropriate home working conditions (eg, workload) may represent a good step forward to achieve the purpose of homeworking and improve homeworkers’ well-being. Hence, the present study offered significant knowledge and empirical evidence to help organizational policymakers and managers on the need to pay critical attention to employees’ workload during homeworking.

* Note: Although not included in our hypotheses, following the suggestion of a reviewer, we tested “frequency of homeworking” using a multigroup approach to highlight potential differences in the model in low- or high-frequency homeworking conditions. The results of this multigroup analysis are not included in this article because they confirmed that all relationships in the research model were significant and, in the same direction, in the low- and high-frequency homeworking conditions. These results are anyway available upon request to the corresponding author.

Funding Sources: No funding was provided for the conduct of this research. The publication costs of this open-access article were covered by the authors' university membership in the CARE-CRUI national contract with the publisher Wolters Kluwer for Lippincott Williams & Wilkins journals.

Conflict of Interest: Nothing to declare.

Ethical Considerations & Disclosure: This research fully respects the Declaration of Helsinki. All ethical guidelines were followed.

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

How much homework is too much?

homework negative effect on mental health

Jump to: The Link Between Homework and Stress | Homework’s Impact on Mental Health | Benefits of Homework | How Much Homework Should Teacher’s Assign? | Advice for Students | How Healium Helps

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 that 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 provide valuable insights for educators, parents, and students who are wondering about how much stress homework is causing in their lives.

The Link Between Homework and Stress: What the Research Says

Over the years, numerous studies have been conducted to investigate 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 even producing 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.

Overall, it appears clear that the answer to whether or not homework is a significant stressor for students is “Yes, depending on the workload assigned to students.” As such, teachers and parents alike should be wary of how much work they are truly putting on the shoulders of teenagers. 

Homework’s Impact on Mental Health and Well-being

Homework-induced stress on students is far-reaching and involves 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 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.

2. Potential Physical Effects of Homework-Induced Stress:

• Impaired Immune Function: Prolonged stress can 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.

However, while homework can foster discipline, time management, and self-directed learning, it is crucial to strike a balance that promotes both academic growth and mental well-being .

How Much Homework Should Teachers Assign?

As a general guideline, educators should consider 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

We find it gratifying to not only explore the impact of homework on stress levels but also to take part in the solution. Our innovative mental fitness tool is playing a role in teaching students how to learn to self-regulate their stress and downshift in a drugless way. Schools implementing Healium have seen improvements in student outcomes, 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. Healium equips students with vital skills that will serve them well beyond the classroom. 

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

About the Author

homework negative effect 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 VR/AR 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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How does homework affect students.

Posted by Kenny Gill

Homework is essential in the learning process of all students. It benefits them in managing time, being organized, and thinking beyond the classroom work. When students develop good habits towards homework, they enjoy good grades. The amount of homework given to students has risen by 51 percent. In most cases, this pushes them to order for custom essays online. A lot of homework can be overwhelming, affecting students in negative ways.

How homework affects the psyche of students Homework plays a crucial role in ensuring students succeeds both inside and outside the classroom. The numerous hours they spend in class, on school work, and away from family and friends lead to them experiencing exhaustion. Too much homework leads to students becoming disheartened by the school, and it chips away at their motivation for succeeding.

As a result, homework becomes an uphill battle, which they feel they will never win despite putting an effort. When they continue to find homework difficult, they consider other ways of working on it, such as cheating.

Getting enough time to relax, engage with friends and family members helps the students to have fun, thus, raising their spirit and their psyche on school work.  However, when homework exceeds, it affects their emotional well-being making them sad and unproductive students who would rather cheat their way through school.

How does homework affect students?

As a result, they have to struggle with a lack of enough sleep, loss of weight, stomach problems, headaches, and fatigue. Poor eating habits where students rely on fast foods also occasions as they struggle to complete all their assignments. When combined with lack of physical activity, the students suffer from obesity and other health-related conditions. Also, they experience depression and anxiety. The pressure to attend all classes, finish the much homework, as well as have time to make social connections cripples them.

How can parents help with homework? Being an active parent in the life of your child goes a long way towards promoting the health and well-being of children. Participating in their process of doing homework helps you identify if your child is facing challenges, and provide the much-needed support.

The first step is identifying the problem your child has by establishing whether their homework is too much. In elementary school, students should not spend over twenty minutes on homework while in high school they should spend an average of two hours. If it exceeds these guidelines, then you know that the homework is too much and you need to talk with the teachers.

The other step is ensuring your child focuses on their work by eliminating distractions. Texting with friends, watching videos, and playing video games can distract your child. Next, help them create a homework routine by having a designated area for studying and organizing their time for each activity.

Why it is better to do homework with friends Extracurricular activities such as sports and volunteer work that students engage in are vital. The events allow them to refresh their minds, catch up, and share with friends, and sharpen their communication skills. Homework is better done with friends as it helps them get these benefits. Through working together, interacting, and sharing with friends, their stress reduces.

Working on assignments with friends relaxes the students. It ensures they have the help they need when tackling the work, making even too much homework bearable. Also, it develops their communication skills. Deterioration of communication skills is a prominent reason as to why homework is bad. Too much of it keeps one away from classmates and friends, making it difficult for one to communicate with other people.

Working on homework with friends, however, ensures one learns how to express themselves and solve issues, making one an excellent communicator.

How does a lot of homework affect students’ performance? Burnout is a negative effect of homework. After spending the entire day learning, having to spend more hours doing too much homework lead to burnout. When it occurs, students begin dragging their feet when it comes to working on assignments and in some cases, fail to complete them. Therefore, they end up getting poor grades, which affects their overall performance.

Excessive homework also overshadows active learning, which is essential in the learning process. It encourages active participation of students in analyzing and applying what they learn in class in the real world. As a result, this limits the involvement of parents in the process of learning and children collaboration with friends. Instead, it causes boredom, difficulties for the students to work alongside others, and lack of skills in solving problems.

Should students have homework? Well, this is the question many parents and students ask when they consider these adverse effects of homework. Homework is vital in the learning process of any student. However, in most cases, it has crossed the line from being a tool for learning and becomes a source of suffering for students. With such effects, a balance is necessary to help students learn, remain healthy, and be all rounded individuals in society.

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Great info and really valuable for teachers and tutors. This is a really very wonderful post. I really appreciate it; this post is very helpful for education.

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How Homework Is Destroying Teens’ Health

Jessica Amabile '24 , Staff Writer March 25, 2022

homework negative effect on mental health

“[Students] average about 3.1 hours of homework each night,” according to an article published by Stanford .  Teens across the country come home from school, exhausted from a long day, only to do more schoolwork.  They sit at their computers, working on homework assignments for hours on end.  To say the relentless amount of work they have to do is overwhelming would be an understatement.  The sheer amount of homework given has many negative impacts on teenagers.

Students have had homework for decades, but in more recent years it has become increasingly more demanding.  Multiple studies have shown that students average about three hours of homework per night.  The Atlantic mentioned that students now have twice as much homework as students did in the 1990s.  This is extremely detrimental to teens’ mental health and levels of stress.  Students have a lot to do after school, such as spending time with family, extracurricular activities, taking care of siblings or other family members, hanging out with friends, or all of the above.  Having to juggle all of this as well as hours on end of homework is unreasonable because teenagers already have enough to think or worry about.   

According to a student- run survey conducted in Cherry Hill West, students reported that they received the most homework in math, history, and language arts classes.  They receive anywhere from 1 to 4 or more hours of homework every day, but only about 22.7% somewhat or strongly agree that it helps them learn.  Of the students who participated, 63.6% think schools should continue to give out homework sometimes, while 27.3% said they should not give out homework at all.  In an open-ended response section, students had a lot to say.  One student wrote, “I think we should get homework to practice work if we are seen struggling, or didn’t finish work in class. But if we get homework, I think it just shows that the teacher needs more time to teach and instead of speeding up, gives us more work.”  Another added,  “Homework is important to learn the material. However, too much may lead to the student not learning that much, or it may become stressful to do homework everyday.”  Others wrote, “The work I get in chemistry doesn’t help me learn at all if anything it confuses me more,” and “I think math is the only class I could use homework as that helps me learn while world language is supposed to help me learn but feels more like a time waste.”   A student admitted, “I think homework is beneficial for students but the amount of homework teachers give us each day is very overwhelming and puts a lot of stress on kids. I always have my work done but all of the homework I have really changes my emotions and it effects me.”  Another pointed out, “you are at school for most of your day waking up before the sun and still after all of that they send you home each day with work you need to do before the next day. Does that really make sense[?]”

homework negative effect on mental health

As an article from Healthline mentioned, “Researchers asked students whether they experienced physical symptoms of stress… More than 80 percent of students reported having at least one stress-related symptom in the past month, and 44 percent said they had experienced three or more symptoms.”  If school is causing students physical symptoms of stress, it needs to re-evaluate whether or not homework is beneficial to students, especially teenagers.  Students aren’t learning anything if they have hours of “busy work” every night, so much so that it gives them symptoms of stress, such as headaches, weight loss, sleep deprivation, and so on.  The continuous hours of work are doing nothing but harming students mentally and physically.

homework negative effect on mental health

The mental effects of homework can be harmful as well.  Mental health issues are often ignored, even when schools can be the root of the problem.  An article from USA Today contained a quote from a licensed therapist and social worker named Cynthia Catchings, which reads, “ heavy workloads can also cause serious mental health problems in the long run, like anxiety and depression.”  Mental health problems are not beneficial in any way to education.  In fact, it makes it more difficult for students to focus and learn.  

Some studies have suggested that students should receive less homework.  To an extent, homework can help students in certain areas, such as math.  However, too much has detrimental impacts on their mental and physical health.  Emmy Kang, a mental health counselor, has a suggestion.  She mentioned, “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,” according to USA Today .  Students don’t have much control over the homework they receive, but if enough people could explain to teachers the negative impacts it has on them, they might be convinced.  Teachers need to realize that their students have other classes and other assignments to do.  While this may not work for everything, it would at least be a start, which would be beneficial to students.

The sole purpose of schools is to educate children and young adults to help them later on in life.  However, school curriculums have gone too far if hours of homework for each class are seen as necessary and beneficial to learning.  Many studies have shown that homework has harmful effects on students, so how does it make sense to keep assigning it?  At this rate, the amount of time spent on homework will increase in years to come, along with the effects of poor mental and physical health.  Currently, students do an average of 3 hours of homework, according to the Washington Post, and the estimated amount of teenagers suffering from at least one mental illness is 1 in 5, as Polaris Teen Center stated.  This is already bad enough–it’s worrisome to think it could get much worse.  Homework is not more important than physical or mental health, by any standards.

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Youth enrichment activities could harm mental health

homework negative effect on mental health

New study shows negative effects from adding new enrichment activities

In a new study from the University of Georgia, researchers found that the time high schoolers spend on so-called enrichment activities—including tutoring, sports, school clubs and even homework—is negatively affecting their mental health. The study also found that any additional enrichment activities are unlikely to benefit students academically.

While the ideal number of study hours will vary student by student, researchers found that adding more enrichment activities is unlikely to benefit students. Many people think additional study time or tutoring will lead to better test scores and grades, but this research shows that students are already at their limit. Any more “enrichment” will have negative returns.

“We found that the effect of those additional activities on cognitive skills, that last hour, is basically zero,” said the study co-author and assistant professor of economics in UGA’s Terry College of Business Carolina Caetano. “And what’s more surprising is that the last hour doing these activities is contributing negatively to the child’s non-cognitive skills.”

Non-cognitive skills include emotional regulation and well-being, and they relate to resilience and communication skills. When looking at how teenagers spend their time and how it affects cognitive or academic skills versus non-cognitive or socio-emotional skills, Caetano said most high schoolers are maxing out the academic benefit of these activities while actively losing socio-emotional skills.

homework negative effect on mental health

Carolina Caetano, assistant professor, John Munro Godfrey, Sr. Department of Economics

Caetano said it is best to think of the relationship between enrichment activities and these skills as a curve. For a while, an additional hour of studying, tutoring or formal activity will help students get more skills and climb up the curve of academic skills. But there is only so much time in the day, and the more time the student spends on enrichment, the less time they can spend on non-enrichment activities such as relaxing, freely socializing and sleeping.

These non-enrichment activities are also valuable for life skills and knowledge retention. If a child does not get enough rest, they could lose some of their academic gains because they cannot retain what they learned. They could also lose socio-emotional gains because they do not get enough social practice, or because they get stressed out. Eventually the losses equal the gains, and the benefits from enrichment max out.

At this point most students are at the top of the academic skills curve, and any more enrichment will decrease their academic skills. Additionally, that time has taken away from activities that promote socio-emotional skills. This is harmful and can result in anxiety, depression and outbursts from being over extended. Essentially, the student would have been better off, in terms of noncognitive skills, if they had scaled back the enrichment activities, Caetano said.

“You’re at the maximum of what you can acquire academically from that work,” she said. “But on the curve for non-cognitive skills, you have gone past the maximum and gone into the descending part of the curve. You’re losing socio-emotional skills at that point.”

Psychologists and educators have highlighted the potential damage of overscheduling for years, Caetano said, and this paper provides solid causal evidence that supports their argument.

Opportunities to scale back children’s schedules

This study used detailed data from 4,300 children between kindergarten and seniors in high school. The data was collected in the Child Development Supplement of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics.

Researchers looked at three age groups: elementary, middle school and high school children. High schoolers face the worst situation, Caetano said, but that does not mean younger students are OK. They’re at the top of the curve, she said, which means that any more enrichment and they’re facing negative returns.

“If you look at middle school and elementary school children, they are at zero returns for cognitive and noncognitive skills,” she said. “While they haven’t gone into a negative area yet, additional work is likely to harm them.”

If anything, Caetano said, we should look at the status of younger students as a chance to build more social and non-academic skills. Opening children’s schedules and letting them enjoy more free time could lead to emotional regulation skills that will later benefit the busy college prep schedule high schoolers face.

“Non-cognitive skills are highly important, but people don’t always think of them because they’re hard to measure,” she said. “They are important not only for future happiness, but professional success as well.”

Opening up the conversation

Caetano admits that finding a solution to overscheduling is a complicated process. It is important for children to hang out with other children in an unrestricted manner to build their noncognitive skills, and some parents might worry about taking them away from more measurable enrichment activities.

The benefit of developing lifelong skills, however, could prove more important.

“If you scale back children’s activities, they could move backwards slightly for cognitive skills, but their losses on noncognitive skills are already so high that the chance might be worthwhile,” Caetano said.

Additionally, the point becomes moot unless a significant number of parents commit to the change. Without widespread adoption, the kids who shift away from enrichment activities won’t have anyone to play with to build noncognitive skills.

“There’s something very unideal when you consider this as an individual problem. What we have here is a societal problem,” Caetano said. “There’s only so much that parents can do.”

The study does not provide the perfect number of enrichment hours, but Caetano says that parents should continuously assess their mental well-being as well as their child’s.

“There will be variation across families, so if I were to give a recommendation, I’d say that if you have signs that, as a family, you are overly stretched, you probably are in the negative returns side of the curve, and you should scale back,” she said. “If whenever someone contacts you for a play date, you are always scheduled, then it’s very clear that you are overscheduled.”

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  • Open access
  • Published: 27 April 2022

School educational models and child mental health among K-12 students: a scoping review

  • Ting Yu 1 ,
  • Jian Xu 1 ,
  • Yining Jiang 1 ,
  • Hui Hua 1 ,
  • Yulai Zhou 1 &
  • Xiangrong Guo 1 , 2  

Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health volume  16 , Article number:  32 ( 2022 ) Cite this article

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The promotion of mental health among children and adolescents is a public health imperative worldwide, and schools have been proposed as the primary and targeted settings for mental health promotion for students in grades K-12. This review sought to provide a comprehensive understanding of key factors involved in models of school education contributing to student mental health development, interrelationships among these factors and the cross-cultural differences across nations and societies.

This scoping review followed the framework of Arksey and O’Malley and holistically reviewed the current evidence on the potential impacts of school-related factors or school-based interventions on student mental health in recent 5 years based on the PubMed, Web of Science, Embase and PsycExtra databases.

Results/findings

After screening 558 full-texts, this review contained a total of 197 original articles on school education and student mental health. Based on the five key factors (including curriculum, homework and tests, physical activities, interpersonal relationships and after-school activities) identified in student mental development according to thematic analyses, a multi-component school educational model integrating academic, social and physical factors was proposed so as to conceptualize the five school-based dimensions for K-12 students to promote student mental health development.

Conclusions

The lessons learned from previous studies indicate that developing multi-component school strategies to promote student mental health remains a major challenge. This review may help establish appropriate school educational models and call for a greater emphasis on advancement of student mental health in the K-12 school context among different nations or societies.

Introduction

In recent years, mental health conditions among children and adolescents have received considerable attention as a public health concern. Globally about 10–20% of children and adolescents experience mental health problems [ 1 , 2 ], and mental health problems in early life may have the potential for long-term adverse consequences [ 3 , 4 ]. In 2019, the World Health Organization has pointed out that childhood and adolescence are critical periods for the acquisition of socio-emotional capabilities and for prevention of mental health problems [ 5 ]. A comprehensive multi-level solution to child mental health problems needs to be put forward for the sake of a healthier lifestyle and environment for future generations.

The school is a unique resource to help children improve their mental health. A few generations ago, schools’ priority was to teach the traditional subjects, such as reading, writing, and arithmetic. However, children are now spending a large amount of time at school where they learn, play and socialize. For some students, schools have a positive influence on their mental health. While for others, schools can present as a considerable source of stress, worry, and unhappiness, and hinder academic achievement [ 2 ]. According to Greenberg et al., today’s schools need to teach beyond basic skills (such as reading, writing, and counting skills) and enhance students’ social-emotional competence, characters, health, and civic engagement [ 6 ]. Therefore, universal mental health promotion in school settings is recognized to be particularly effective in improving students’ emotional well-being [ 2 , 7 ].

Research evidence over the last two decades has shown that schools can make a difference to students’ mental health [ 8 ]. Previous related systematic reviews or meta-analyses focused on the effects of a particular school-based intervention on child mental health [ 9 , 10 ] and answered a specific question with available research, however, reviews covering different school-related factors or school-based interventions are still lacking. An appropriate model of school education requires the combination of different school-related factors (such as curriculum, homework, and physical activities) and therefore needs to focus on multiple primary outcomes. Thus, we consider that a scoping review may be more appropriate to help us synthesize the recent evidence than a systematic review or meta-analysis, as the wide coverage and the heterogeneous nature of related literature focusing on multiple primary outcomes are not amenable to a more precise systematic review or meta-analysis [ 11 ]. To the best of our knowledge, this review is among the first to provide a comprehensive overview of available evidence on the potential impacts of multiple school-related factors or school-based interventions on student mental health, and identify school-related risk/protective factors involved in the development of mental health problems among K-12 students, and therefore, to help develop a holistic model of K-12 education.

A scoping review was systematically conducted following the methodological framework of Arksey and O'Malley [ 12 ]: defining the research question; identifying relevant studies; study selection; data extraction; and summarizing and reporting results. The protocol for this review was specified in advance and submitted for registration in the PROSPERO database (Reference number, CRD42019123126).

Defining the research question (stage 1)

For this review, we sought to answer the following questions:

What is known from the existing literature on the potential impacts of school-related factors or school-based interventions on student mental health?

What are the interrelationships among these factors involved in the school educational process?

What are the cross-cultural differences in K-12 education process across nations and societies?

Identifying relevant studies (stage 2)

The search was conducted in PubMed, Web of Science and Embase electronic databases, and the dates of the published articles included in the search were limited to the last 5 years until 23 March 2021. The PsycExtra database was also searched to identify relevant evidence in the grey literature [ 13 ]. In recent 5 years, mental disorders among children and adolescents have increased at an alarming rate [ 14 , 15 ] and relevant policies calling for a greater role of schools in promoting student mental health have been issued in different countries [ 16 , 17 , 18 ], making educational settings at the forefront of the prevention initiative globally. Therefore, limiting research source published in the past 5 years was pre-defined since these publications reflected the newest discoveries, theories, processes, or practices. Search terms were selected based on the eligibility criteria and outcomes of interest were described as follows (Additional file 1 : Table S1). The search strategy was peer-reviewed by the librarian of Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine.

Study selection (stage 3)

T.Y. and Y.J. independently identified relevant articles by screening the titles, reviewing the abstracts and full-text articles. If any disagreement arises, the disagreement shall be resolved by discussion between the two reviewers and a third reviewer (J. X.).

Inclusion criteria were (1) according to the study designs: only randomized controlled trials (RCT)/quasi-RCT, longitudinal and cross-sectional studies; (2) according to the languages: articles only published in English or Chinese; (3) according to the ages of the subjects: preschoolers (3.5–5 years of age), children (6–11 years of age) and adolescents (12–18 years of age); and (4) according to the study topics: only articles examining the associations between factors involved in the school education and student mental health outcomes (psychological distress, such as depression, anxiety, stress, self-injury, suicide; and/or psychological well-being, such as self-esteem, self-concept, self-efficacy, optimism and happiness) in educational settings. Exclusion criteria: (1) Conference abstracts, case report/series, and descriptive articles were excluded due to overall quality and reliability. (2) Studies investigating problems potentially on a causal pathway to mental health disorders but without close associations with school education models (such as problems probably caused by family backgrounds) were excluded. (3) Studies using schools as the recruitment places but without school-related topics were also excluded.

Data extraction (stage 4)

T.Y. and Y.J., and X.G., Y. Z., H.H. extracted data from the included studies using a pre-defined extraction sheet. Researchers extracted the following information from each eligible study: study background (name of the first author, publication year, and study location), sample characteristics (number of participants, ages of participants, and sex proportion), design [intervention (RCT or quasi-RCT), or observational (cross-sectional or longitudinal) study], and instruments used to assess exposures in school settings and mental health outcomes. For intervention studies (RCTs and quasi-RCTs), we also extracted weeks of intervention, descriptions of the program, duration and frequency. T.Y. reviewed all the data extraction sheets under the supervision of J. X.

Summarizing and reporting the results (stage 5)

Results were summarized and reported using a narrative synthesis approach. Studies were sorted according to (a) factors/exposures associated with child and adolescent mental health in educational settings, and (b) components of school-based interventions to facilitate student mental health development. Key findings from the studies were then compared, contrasted and synthesized to illuminate themes which appeared across multiple investigations.

Search results and characteristics of the included articles

The search yielded 25,338 citations, from which 558 were screened in full-text. Finally, a total of 197 original articles were included in this scoping review: 72 RCTs (including individually randomized and cluster-randomized trials), 27 quasi-RCTs, 29 longitudinal studies and 69 cross-sectional studies (Fig.  1 for details). Based on thematic analyses, the included studies were analyzed and thematically grouped into five overarching categories based on the common themes in the types of intervention programs or exposures in the school context: curriculum, homework and tests, interpersonal relationships, physical activity and after-school activities. Table 1 provided a numerical summary of the characteristics of the included articles. The 197 articles included data from 46 countries in total, covering 24 European countries, 13 Asian countries, 4 American countries, 3 African countries, and 2 Oceanian countries. Most intervention studies were conducted in the United States of America (n = 16), followed by Australia (n = 11) and the United Kingdom (n = 11). Most observational studies were conducted in the United States of America (n = 19), followed by China (n = 15) and Canada (n = 8). Figure  2 illustrated the geographical distribution of the included studies. Further detailed descriptions of the intervention studies or observational studies were provided in Additional file 1 : Tables S2 and S3, respectively.

figure 1

Study selection process

figure 2

Geographical distribution of included studies: A intervention studies; B observational studies

The association between school curriculum and student mental health was investigated in four cross-sectional studies. Mathematics performance was found to be adversely associated with levels of anxiety or negative emotional responses among primary school students [ 19 ]. However, in middle schools, difficulties and stressors students may encounter in learning academic lessons (such as difficulties/stressors in taking notes and understanding teachers’ instructions) could contribute to lowered self-esteem [ 20 ] and increased suicidal ideation or attempts [ 21 ]. Innovative integration of different courses instead of the traditional approach of teaching biology, chemistry, and physics separately, could improve students’ self-concept [ 22 ].

To promote student mental health, 64 intervention studies were involved in innovative curricula integrating different types of competencies, including social emotional learning (SEL), mindfulness-intervention, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)-based curriculum, life skills training, stress management curriculum, and so on (Fig.  3 ). Curricula focusing on SEL put an emphasis on the development of child social-emotional skills such as managing emotions, coping skills and empathy [ 23 ], and showed positive effects on depression, anxiety, stress, negative affect and emotional problems [ 23 , 24 , 25 , 26 , 27 , 28 , 29 , 30 , 31 , 32 , 33 , 34 , 35 , 36 , 37 ], especially in children with psychological symptoms [ 24 ] and girls [ 23 , 27 ], as well as increased prosocial behaviors [ 38 ], self-esteem [ 39 , 40 , 41 , 42 ] and positive affect [ 43 ]. However, four programs reported non-significant effects of SEL on student mental health outcomes [ 44 , 45 , 46 , 47 ], while two programs demonstrated increased levels of anxiety [ 48 ] and a reduction of subjective well-being [ 49 ] at post-intervention. Mindfulness-based curriculum showed its potential to endorse positive outcomes for youth including reduced emotional problems and negative affect [ 50 , 51 , 52 , 53 , 54 , 55 , 56 ] as well as increased well-being and positive emotions [ 51 , 52 , 57 , 58 , 59 , 60 ], especially among high-risk children with emotional problems or perceived stress before interventions [ 50 , 53 ]. However, non-significant effects were also reported in an Australian study in secondary schools [ 61 ]. Curricula based on CBT targeted children at risk or with early symptoms of mental illness [ 62 , 63 , 64 , 65 , 66 , 67 ], or all students regardless of symptom levels as a universal program [ 68 , 69 , 70 ], and could impose a positive effect on self-esteem, well-being, distress, stress and suicidality. However, a universal CBT trial in Swedish primary schools found no evidence of long-term effects of such program on anxiety prevention [ 71 ]. Five intervention studies based on life-skill-training were found to be effective in promoting self-efficacy [ 72 , 73 ], self-esteem [ 73 , 74 ], and reducing depression/anxiety-like symptoms [ 72 , 75 , 76 ]. Courses covering stress management skills have also been reported to improve life satisfaction, increase happiness and decrease anxiety levels among students in developing countries [ 77 , 78 , 79 ]. In practice, innovative teaching forms such as the game play [ 67 , 80 , 81 ] and outdoor learning [ 82 , 83 ] embedded in the traditional classes could help address the mental health and social participation concerns for children and youth. Limited evidence supported the mental health benefits of resilience-based curricula [ 84 , 85 , 86 ], which deserve further studies.

figure 3

Harvest plots for overview of curriculum-based intervention studies, grouped by different types of curriculum-based interventions. The height of the bars corresponded to the sample sizes on a logarithmic scale of each study. Red bars represented positive effects of interventions on student mental health outcomes, grey bars represented non-significant effects on student mental health outcomes, and black bars represented negative effects on student mental health outcomes

Large cluster-randomized trials utilizing multi-component whole-school interventions which involves various aspects of school life (curriculum, interpersonal relationships, activities), such as the Strengthening Evidence base on scHool-based intErventions for pRomoting adolescent health (SEHER) program in India and the Together at School program in Finland, have been proved to be beneficial for prevention from depression [ 87 , 88 , 89 ] and psychological problems [ 90 ].

Homework and tests

The association between homework and psychological ill-being outcomes was investigated in four cross-sectional studies and one longitudinal study. Incomplete homework and longer homework durations were associated with a higher risk of anxiety symptoms [ 91 , 92 ], negative emotions [ 93 , 94 , 95 ] and even psychological distress in adulthood [ 96 ].

Innumerable exams during the educational process starting from primary schools may lead to increased anxiety and depression levels [ 97 , 98 ], particularly among senior students preparing for college entrance examinations [ 99 ]. Students with higher test scores had a lower probability to have emotional and behavioral problems [ 100 ], in comparison with students who failed examinations [ 93 , 101 ]. Depression and test anxiety were found to be highly correlated [ 102 ]. In terms of psychological well-being outcomes, findings were consistent in the negative associations between student test anxiety and self-esteem/life-satisfaction levels [ 103 , 104 ]. Regarding intervention studies, adolescent students at a high risk of test anxiety benefited from CBT or attention training by strengthening sense of control and meta-cognitive beliefs [ 105 , 106 ]. However, more knowledge about the criteria for an upcoming test was not related to anxiety levels during lessons [ 107 ].

Interpersonal relationships

School-based interpersonal (student–student or student–teacher) relationships are also important to student mental health. Low support from schoolmates/teachers and negative interpersonal events were reported to be associated with psychosomatic health complaints [ 108 , 109 , 110 , 111 , 112 , 113 ]. In contrast, positive interpersonal relationships in schools could promote emotional well-being [ 114 , 115 , 116 , 117 ] and reduce depressive symptoms in students [ 118 , 119 , 120 ].

Student–teacher relationships

Negative teaching behaviors were associated with negative affect [ 121 , 122 ] and low self-efficacy [ 123 ] among primary and high school students. Student–teacher conflicts at the beginning of the school year were associated with higher anxiety levels in students at the end of the year, and high-achieving girls were most susceptible to such negative associations [ 124 ]. Higher levels of perceived teachers’ support were correlated with decreased risks of depression [ 125 ], mental health problems [ 126 ] as well as increased positive affect [ 127 , 128 ] and improved mental well-being [ 129 , 130 ]. Better student–teacher relationships were positively associated with self-esteem/efficacy [ 131 ], while negatively associated with the risks of adolescents’ externalizing behaviors [ 132 ] among secondary school students. Longitudinal studies demonstrated that high intimacy levels between students and teachers were correlated with reduced emotional symptoms [ 133 ] and increased life-satisfaction among students [ 134 ]. In addition, more respect to teachers in 10th grade students was associated with higher self-efficacy and lower stress levels 1 year later [ 135 ].

A growing body of research focused on the issue of how to increase positive interactions between teachers and students in teaching practices. Actually, interventions on improving teaching skills to promote a positive classroom atmosphere could potentially benefit children, especially those experiencing a moderate to high level of risks of mental health problems [ 136 , 137 ].

Student–student relationships

Findings were consistent in considering the positive peer relationship as a protective factor against internalizing and externalizing behaviors [ 138 , 139 , 140 , 141 , 142 ], depression [ 143 , 144 , 145 ], anxiety [ 146 ], self-harm [ 147 ] and suicide [ 148 ], and as a favorable factor for positive affect [ 149 , 150 ], increased happiness [ 151 ], self-efficacy [ 152 ], optimism [ 153 , 154 ] and mental well-being [ 155 ]. In contrast, peer-hassles, friendlessness, negative peer-beliefs, peer-conflicts/isolation and peer-rejection, have been identified in the development of psychological distress among students [ 141 , 143 , 149 , 156 , 157 , 158 , 159 , 160 , 161 , 162 , 163 , 164 , 165 ].

As schools and classrooms are common settings to build peer relationships, student social skills to enhance the student–student relationship can be incorporated into school education. Training of interpersonal skills among secondary school students with depressive symptoms appeared to be effective in decreasing adolescent internalizing and externalizing symptoms [ 166 ]. In addition, recent studies also identified the effectiveness of small-group learning activities in the cognitive development and mental health promotion among students [ 87 , 88 , 89 , 90 , 167 ].

Physical activity in school

Moderate-to-high-intensity physical activity during school days has been confirmed to benefit children and adolescents in relation to various psychosocial outcomes, such as reduced symptoms of depression [ 168 ], emotional problems [ 169 ] and mental distress [ 170 ] as well as improved self-efficacy [ 171 ] and mental well-being [ 172 , 173 ]. In addition, participation in physical education (PE) at least twice a week was significantly associated with a lower likelihood of suicidal ideation and stress [ 174 ].

A variety of school‐based physical activity interventions or lessons have been proposed in previous studies to promote physical activity levels and psychosocial fitness in students, including integrating physical activities into classroom settings [ 175 , 176 , 177 , 178 ], assigning physical activity homework [ 178 ], physically-active academic lessons [ 179 , 180 ] as well as an obligation of ensuring the participation of various kinds of sports (such as aerobic exercises, resistance exercises, yoga) in PE lessons [ 181 , 182 , 183 , 184 , 185 , 186 , 187 , 188 , 189 , 190 , 191 , 192 ]. Although the effectiveness of these proposed physical activity interventions was not consistent, physical education is suggested to implement sustainably as other academic courses with special attention.

After-school activities

Several cross-sectional studies have synthesized evidence on the positive effects of leisure-time physical activity against student depression, anxiety, stress, and psychological distress [ 193 , 194 , 195 , 196 , 197 , 198 , 199 ]. Extracurricular sport participation (such as sports, dance, and martial arts) could foster perceived self-efficacy, self-esteem, improve mental health status [ 200 , 201 , 202 , 203 ], and reduce emotional problems [ 204 ] and depressive symptoms [ 205 ]. Participation in team sports was more strongly related to beneficial mental health outcomes than individual sports, especially in high school girls [ 199 ]. Other forms of organized activities, such as youth organizations and arts, have also been demonstrated to benefit self-esteem [ 201 ], self-worth [ 206 ], satisfaction with life and optimism [ 207 , 208 ].

However, different types of after-school activities may result in different impacts on student mental health. Previous studies demonstrated that students participating in after-school programs of yoga or sports had better well-being and self-efficacy [ 209 ], and decreased levels of anxiety [ 210 ] and negative mood [ 211 ], while another study showed that the after-school yoga program induced no significant changes in levels of depression, anxiety and stress among students [ 212 ]. Inconsistent findings on the effects of participation in art activities on student mental health were also reported [ 213 , 214 ]. Another study also highlighted the benefits of after-school clubs, demonstrating an improvement in socio-emotional competencies and emotional status, and sustained effects at 12-month follow-up [ 215 ].

Based on the potential importance of the five school-based factors identified in student mental development, a multi-component school educational model is therefore proposed to conceptualize the five school-based dimensions (including curriculum, homework and tests, interpersonal relationships, physical activity, and after-school activities) for K-12 students to promote their mental health (Fig.  4 ). The interrelationships among the five dimensions and cross-cultural comparisons are further discussed as follows in a holistic way.

figure 4

The multi-component school educational model is proposed to conceptualize the five school-based dimensions (including curriculum set, homework and tests, physical activity, interpersonal relationships and after-school activities) for K-12 students to promote student mental health

Comprehensive understanding of K-12 school educational models: the reciprocal relationships among factors

Students’ experiences in the school educational context are dynamic processes which englobe a variety of educational elements (such as curriculum, homework, tests) and social elements (such as interpersonal relationships and social activities in schools). Based on the educational model proposed in this review, these educational/social elements are closely related and interact with each other, which play an important role in students’ psychosocial development.

Being aware of this, initiatives aimed to improve student social and emotional competencies may certainly impact student psychological well-being, at least in part, in a way of developing supportive relationships between teachers-students or between peers [ 35 , 89 ]. On the other hand, the enhancement of interpersonal relationships at school could serve as a potent source of motivation for student academic progress so as to further promote psychological well-being [ 131 , 132 ]. In addition, school education reforms intended to provide pupils with more varied teaching and learning practices to promote supportive interpersonal relationships between students and teachers or between peers, such as education programs outside the classroom [ 82 ], cooperative learning [ 167 ] and adaptive classroom management [ 136 , 137 ], have also been advocated among nations recently.

Our findings also suggested that participation in non-academic activities was an important component of positive youth development. Actually, these school-based activities in different contexts also require teacher–student interactions or peer interactions. Social aspects of physical activities have been proposed to strengthen relationship-building and other interpersonal skills that may additionally protect students against the development of mental health problems [ 130 , 203 ]. Among various types of sports, team sports seemed to be associated with more beneficial outcomes compared with individual sports due to the social aspect of being part of a team [ 194 , 199 ]. Participation in music, student council, and other clubs/organizations may also provide students with frequent connections with peers, and opportunities to build relationships with others that share similar interests [ 201 ]. Further, frequent and supportive interactions with teachers and peers in sports and clubs may promote student positive views of the self and encourage their health-promoting behaviors (such as physical activities).

However, due to increasing academic pressure, children have to spend a large amount of time on academic studies, and inevitably displace time on sleep, leisure, exercises/sports, and extracurricular activities [ 92 ]. Although the right amount of homework may improve school achievements [ 216 ] and higher test scores may help prevent students from mental distress [ 100 , 101 , 102 ], over-emphasis on academic achivements may lead to elevated stress levels and poor health outcomes ultimately. The anxiety specifically related to academic achievement and test-taking at school was frequently reported among students who felt pressured and overwhelmed by the continuous evaluation of their academic performance [ 98 , 103 , 104 ]. In such high-pressure academic environments, strategies to alleviate the levels of stress among students should be incorporated into intervention efforts, such as stress management skill training [ 77 , 78 , 79 ], CBT-based curriculum [ 62 , 64 , 66 , 105 ], and attention training [ 106 ]. Therefore, school supportive policies that allow students continued access to various non-academic activities as well as improve their social aspect of participation may be one fruitful avenue to promote student well-being.

Cross-cultural differences in K-12 educational models among different nations and societies

As we reviewed above, heavy academic burden exists as an important school-related stressor for students [ 91 , 92 , 94 , 95 , 96 ], probably due to excessive examinations [ 97 , 98 , 99 ] and unsatisfactory academic performance [ 100 , 101 , 102 ]. Actually, extrinsic cultural factors significantly impact upon student academic burden. In most countries, college admission policies affect the entire ecological system of K-12 education, because success in life or careers is determined by examination performance to a large extent [ 217 ]. The impacts of heavy academic burden may be greatest in Asian cultures where more after-school time of students is spent on homework, exam preparations, and extracurricular classes for academic improvement (such as in Korea, Japan, China and Singapore) [ 92 , 95 , 218 ]. As a consequence, the high proportion of adolescents fall in the “academic burnout group” in Asian countries [ 219 ], which highlights the need to take further measures to combat the issue. As an issue of concern, the “double reduction” policy has been implemented nationwide in China since 2021, being aimed to relieve students of excessive study burden, and the effects of the policy are anticipated but remain unknown up to now.

Other factors such as school curriculum and extra-curricular commitments, vary among societies and nations and may explain the cross-cultural differences in educational models [ 220 ]. For example, in Finland, the primary science subject is as important as mathematics or reading, while Chinese schools often lack time to arrange a sufficient number of science courses [ 221 ], which could be explained by different educational traditions of the two countries. In addition, approximately 75% of high schools in Korea failed to implement national curriculum guidelines for physical education (150 min/week), instead replacing that time with self-guided study to prepare for university admission exams [ 174 ]. In terms of the arrangement of the after-school time, Asian students spend most of their after-school time on private tutoring or doing homework [ 222 ], 2–3 times longer than the time spent by adolescents in most western countries/cities [ 92 ]. However, according to our analyses and summaries, most intervention studies targeting the improvement of mental health of students by school education were conducted in western countries (Fig.  2 ), suggesting that special attention needs to be paid to the students’ mental health issue on campus, especially in countries where students have heavy study-loads. Merits of the different educational traditions also need to be considered in the designs of educational models among different countries.

Strengths and limitations

This study focuses on an interdisciplinary topic covering the fields of developmental behavioral pediatrics and education, and the establishment of appropriate school educational models is teamwork involving multiple disciplines including pediatrics, prevention, education, services and policy. Although there are lots of studies focusing on a particular factor in school educational processes to promote student mental health, comprehensive analysis/understanding on multi-component educational model is lacking, which is important and urgently needed for the development of multi-dimensional educational models/strategies. Therefore, we included a wide range of related studies, summarized a comprehensive understanding of the evidence base, and discussed the interrelationships among the components/factors of school educational models and the cross-cultural gaps in K-12 education across different societies, which may have significant implications for future policy-making.

Some limitations also exist and are worth noting. First, this review used the method of the scoping review which adopted a descriptive approach, rather than the meta-analysis or systematic review which provided a rigorous method of synthesizing the literature. Under the subject (appropriate school education model among K-12 students) of this scoping review, multiple related topics (including curriculum, homework and tests, physical activities, interpersonal relationships and after-school activities) were included rather than one specific topic. Therefore, we consider that the method of the scoping-review is appropriate, given that the aim of this review is to chart or map the available literature on a given subject rather than answering a specific question by providing effect sizes across multiple studies. Second, we limited the study search within recent 5 years. Although we consider that the fields involved in this scoping review change quickly with the acquisition of new knowledge/information in recent 5 years, limiting the literature search within recent 5 years may make us miss some related but relatively old literature. Third, we only included studies disseminated in English or Chinese, which may limit the generalizability of our results to other non-English/Chinese speaking countries.

This scoping review has revealed that the K-12 schools are unique settings where almost all the children and adolescents can be reached, and through which existing educational components (such as curriculum, homework and tests, physical activities, interpersonal relationships and after-school activities) can be leveraged and integrated to form a holistic model of school education, and therefore to promote student mental health. In future, the school may be considered as an ideal setting to implement school-based mental health interventions. Our review suggests the need of comprehensive multi-component educational model, which involves academic, social and physical factors, to be established to improve student academic achievement and simultaneously maintain their mental health.

However, questions still remain as to what is optimal integration of various educational components to form the best model of school education, and how to promote the wide application of the appropriate school educational model. Individual differences among students/schools and cross-cultural differences may need to be considered in the model design process.

Availability of data and materials

The data analysed in this review are available from the corresponding author upon request.

Abbreviations

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Physical education

Randomized controlled trials

Social emotional learning

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Acknowledgements

We thank the librarian of Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine for their help.

This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC, 81974486, 81673189) (to Jian Xu), Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine Gaofeng Clinical Medicine Grant Support (20172016) (to Jian Xu), Shanghai Sailing Program (21YF1451500) (to Hui Hua).

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Ting Yu, Jian Xu, Yining Jiang, Hui Hua, Yulai Zhou & Xiangrong Guo

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JX conceived the scoping review, supervised the review process and reviewed the manuscript. TY conducted study selection and data extraction, charted, synthesized the data, and drafted the manuscript. YJ conducted study selection and data extraction. XG, YZ and HH conducted data extraction. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Additional file 1: table s1..

Search strategies used for each database. Table S2 . Summaries of intervention studies (randomized/quasi-randomized controlled trials) investigating the effects of school-based interventions on child mental health (n = 99). Table S3. Summaries of observational research on relationships between school-related factors and student mental health outcomes (n = 98).

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Yu, T., Xu, J., Jiang, Y. et al. School educational models and child mental health among K-12 students: a scoping review. Child Adolesc Psychiatry Ment Health 16 , 32 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13034-022-00469-8

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DOI : https://doi.org/10.1186/s13034-022-00469-8

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Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health

ISSN: 1753-2000

homework negative effect on mental health

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How Does Homework Affect Students’ Mental Health?

Health, social life, and academic performance may all be impacted by homework. So here is how homework affects students’ mental health.

Nobody bargained or requested homework, so it is an after-school obligation. It is merely the additional work that every student is required to complete over a set period of time after school each day. Depending on the school, the teacher, and the student’s abilities, homework assignments could take more or less time.

A benefit of homework for students is that it helps them develop soft skills like organization and time management, which are crucial after high school. However, the extra work frequently makes both the child and the parents anxious. Some students may find themselves getting border and border as their homework load increases.

Read and learn more about homework and students’ mental health.

Table of Contents

It should come as no surprise that excessive homework can cause stress and anxiety. According to studies, students who receive an excessive amount of homework are more likely to exhibit depressive symptoms, such as feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated, and lonely.

In addition to these psychological repercussions, doing too much homework can cause physical problems like headaches, fatigue, and restless nights.

The negative effects of having too much homework can be even worse for kids. Inadequacy and frustration may result from children feeling under pressure to complete assignments accurately and promptly. Due to their intense workloads, they might also feel as though they are missing out on important social interactions with their friends.

How Does Homework Affect Students' Mental Health?

The Negative Impact of Homework

The following are some of the factors that make homework demanding, depressing, and harmful to students’ mental health. Students’ mental health is continually in jeopardy as they work diligently on their assignments for alarmingly long periods of time. These compelling defenses against excessive homework are provided.

No Uniqueness

The purpose of homework should be to inspire kids to express themselves more creatively. The tasks that teachers give students must be engaging and emphasize their individuality. similar to writing an essay on a topic they enjoy.

Additionally, it’s important to support the child rather than criticize him for producing a subpar essay so that he can express himself more creatively.

Lack of Sleep

Lack of sleep is one of the most common negative effects of schoolwork. As a result of staying up late to finish their homework, students on average only get about 5 hours of sleep each night, despite the fact that humans require at least 7 hours of sleep each day. Both physical and mental health are impacted by sleep deprivation.

No Pleasure

When students are having fun, they learn more effectively. Usually, when their minds are not clouded by fear, they learn things more quickly. However, the element of fear that the majority of teachers introduce into homework prompts children to use unethical methods to complete their assignments.

How Does Homework Affect Students' Mental Health?

Excessive Homework

In the current educational system, there is a lack of coordination between the teachers. Teachers consequently frequently end up giving students far more work than they can handle. In these situations, kids resort to doing their homework for them by either copying their friends’ work or using online homework helpers.

Anxiety Level

Stress brought on by homework can make people more anxious, which may lower their blood pressure levels. Do you know that in the United States, 3.5% of young people have high blood pressure?

Why then, when homework is supposed to be fun and something kids look forward to doing, does it often cause stress in kids? It is straightforward to refute this claim by stating that schoolwork is never enjoyable, but with some careful thought and planning, homework may actually be enjoyable.

No Time for Personal Matters

When students have too much homework, they don’t have enough free time. They are ecstatic all the time. For hobbies, socializing with coworkers, and other activities, there isn’t much time left.

Due to a lack of time, many students, however, dislike completing their assignments. They may stop learning as they come to hate it. It has a serious detrimental effect on their mental health in any case.

How Does Homework Affect Students' Mental Health?

Everyone needs a break from time to time, including kids. Schools should take into account providing weekends without homework so that children can relax and get ready for the upcoming week. Having to complete homework every day of the week without a break could be demanding.

How Can Parents Help?

When it comes to protecting their kids’ mental health from the effects of homework, parents can be a huge help. The completion of assignments on time and without excessive stress can be ensured by talking to kids about expectations and limits.

Encouragement of communication about any issues kids might be having with their homework is also crucial. If kids say they’re frustrated or overwhelmed, parents should be understanding and supportive.

Parents should also pay attention to how much time their kids spend on their homework. Reevaluating the amount of homework assigned may be necessary if a child consistently struggles to finish assignments within the allotted timeframe.

In order to make sure that their kids are still having fun and interacting with other kids, parents should keep an eye on what their kids are doing.

Conclusion: Too Much Homework

In summary, too much homework can be bad for students’ mental health. Finding a balance between schoolwork and extracurricular activities is crucial for students, and parents can be very helpful in assisting their kids with workload management.

Therefore, it’s crucial to strike a balance that guarantees students comprehend the material covered in class without becoming overworked.

Does Homework Affect Your Brain?

Practice is a process that makes sure knowledge is ingrained in the brain. By repeating new skills, one can improve their memory and learn new ones. The purpose of homework, which is based on classwork, is to help students integrate new skills through practice.

Do Teachers Assign Too Much Homework?

Statistics show that giving students too much homework can be unhealthy for their health, leading to anxiety and burnout. Most teachers assign roughly 1-2 pages of homework , which may not appear to be much at first, but when added together, it can easily overwhelm a student.

What Are the Problems With Homework?

Many students wrote that homework causes them to sleep less than they should and leads to “ headaches, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, weight loss, and stomach problems ” as well as a lack of balance in their lives. The majority struggled with anxiety and/or had trouble finding time for important tasks outside of school.

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The Impact of Homework on Student Mental Health

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By Happy Sharer

homework negative effect on mental health

Introduction

Homework is a key part of the educational process. It is often seen as an essential part of learning and helping students to develop important skills. However, there is growing evidence that too much homework can have a negative effect on student mental health. This article will explore the impact of homework on student mental health, examining the correlation between workload and stress levels, analyzing the effects of too much homework on student anxiety, and understanding how homework can lead to depression in students.

Exploring the Impact of Homework on Student Mental Health

Exploring the Impact of Homework on Student Mental Health

Homework has long been seen as an important part of the educational process, but it can also become a source of stress for students. A recent study by the American Psychological Association found that more than two-thirds of students reported feeling overwhelmed by their homework load. The study also found that students who felt overwhelmed were more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety. It is clear that the amount of homework assigned to students can have a significant impact on their mental health.

Examining the Correlation Between Homework and Student Stress Levels

Examining the Correlation Between Homework and Student Stress Levels

The amount of homework assigned to students can have a direct impact on their stress levels. Too much homework can lead to feelings of frustration and overwhelm, which can then lead to increased stress levels. A study published in the journal Developmental Psychology found that when students had more homework assignments, they experienced higher levels of stress. The study also found that students who had more homework assignments were more likely to report feeling overwhelmed and anxious.

It is also important to consider the relationship between homework and academic performance. Studies have suggested that too much homework can lead to decreased academic performance, which can then lead to increased stress levels. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Education found that when students had more homework, their performance on tests was lower than those with less homework. This suggests that too much homework can lead to increased stress levels, as students feel pressure to perform at a higher level.

In order to reduce homework-related stress, it is important for students to prioritize their work. Planning ahead and breaking down tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks can help students to feel more organized and in control. Taking regular breaks throughout the day can also help students to stay focused and motivated. Finally, it is important to ensure that students are getting enough sleep in order to maintain their energy levels and reduce stress.

Analyzing the Effects of Too Much Homework on Student Anxiety

Analyzing the Effects of Too Much Homework on Student Anxiety

Too much homework can also lead to increased anxiety levels in students. A study published in the journal Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review found that when students had more homework, they were more likely to experience symptoms of anxiety. The study also found that students with excessive amounts of homework were more likely to report feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope with the workload.

It is important to understand the psychological effects of too much homework on students. Excessive amounts of homework can lead to feelings of frustration and helplessness, which can then lead to increased anxiety levels. Furthermore, students may start to see homework as a burden rather than an opportunity to learn, which can lead to decreased motivation and further feelings of anxiety.

In order to reduce homework-related anxiety, it is important to set realistic goals and expectations. Setting achievable goals and deadlines can help students to stay focused and motivated. It is also important to ensure that students are getting enough rest and taking regular breaks throughout the day. Finally, it is important to talk to teachers and parents about any concerns or worries that students may have about their workload.

Understanding How Homework Can Lead to Depression in Students

Too much homework can also lead to depression in students. A study published in the journal Pediatrics found that when students had more homework, they were more likely to experience symptoms of depression. The study also found that students with excessive amounts of homework were more likely to report feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and helpless.

It is important to understand the psychological effects of too much homework on students. Excessive amounts of homework can lead to feelings of hopelessness and failure, which can then lead to increased depression levels. Furthermore, students may start to see homework as a chore rather than an opportunity to learn, which can lead to decreased motivation and further feelings of depression.

In order to reduce homework-related depression, it is important to focus on developing positive coping skills. Taking time to relax and practice mindfulness can help students to manage their emotions and stay focused. It is also important to ensure that students are getting enough sleep and taking regular breaks throughout the day. Finally, it is important to talk to teachers and parents about any concerns or worries that students may have about their workload.

Investigating the Relationship Between Homework and Student Self-Esteem

Finally, it is important to consider the relationship between homework and student self-esteem. A study published in the journal Developmental Psychology found that when students had more homework, they were more likely to report feeling inadequate and inferior. The study also found that students with excessive amounts of homework were more likely to report feeling overwhelmed and helpless.

It is important to understand the psychological effects of too much homework on students. Excessive amounts of homework can lead to feelings of worthlessness and failure, which can then lead to decreased self-esteem. Furthermore, students may start to see homework as a burden rather than an opportunity to learn, which can lead to decreased motivation and further feelings of inadequacy.

In order to increase homework-related self-esteem, it is important to focus on developing positive self-talk. Taking time to recognize achievements and celebrate successes can help students to stay motivated and build confidence. It is also important to ensure that students are getting enough rest and taking regular breaks throughout the day. Finally, it is important to talk to teachers and parents about any concerns or worries that students may have about their workload.

In conclusion, it is clear that the amount of homework assigned to students can have a significant impact on their mental health. Too much homework can lead to increased stress levels, anxiety, depression, and decreased self-esteem. It is therefore important to ensure that students are not overloaded with homework and are given the opportunity to learn in a healthy environment. By reducing the amount of homework assigned to students, we can help them to develop important skills without compromising their mental wellbeing.

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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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Workplace Dynamics

Mental health issues in the workplace, raising awareness and support for mental well-being at work..

Updated March 6, 2024 | Reviewed by Monica Vilhauer

  • Prioritize support in workplaces for diverse mental health issues.
  • Implement interventions to enhance employee well-being and performance.
  • Cultivate a culture of empathy, understanding, and support to positively impact the workforce community.

Mental health concerns are increasingly prevalent and impactful in today's dynamic work environments. Research suggests that one in five adults in the United States experiences a mental health condition each year, making mental health issues a significant concern in the workplace. 1

It's essential to recognize the diverse range of conditions that employees may face, including anxiety disorders, depression , bipolar disorder , ADHD , PTSD , and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Despite the prevalence of these conditions, stigma often shrouds discussions surrounding mental health in the workplace, hindering individuals from seeking necessary support and accommodations.

Addressing Specific Mental Health Diagnoses in the Workplace

Understanding and addressing specific mental health diagnoses can significantly enhance support mechanisms within the workplace. Here's how employers can tailor resources to address common mental health conditions:

1. Anxiety Disorders:

  • Offer stress management workshops or seminars on relaxation techniques and coping strategies tailored for anxiety.
  • Provide access to mental health apps designed to manage anxiety symptoms, such as Headspace or Calm.
  • Establish flexible work arrangements or accommodations to support employees experiencing anxiety-related challenges, such as remote work options or adjusted deadlines.

2. Depression:

  • Implement mental health training programs for managers to recognize signs of depression and provide appropriate support and referrals.
  • Foster open communication about mental health struggles, creating a culture of empathy and understanding.
  • Offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) that include confidential counseling services for employees dealing with depression.

3. Bipolar Disorder:

  • Educate employees about the symptoms and treatment options for bipolar disorder to reduce stigma and misconceptions.
  • Provide flexibility in work schedules to accommodate mood fluctuations, ensuring employees have the support they need during manic or depressive episodes.
  • Ensure managers are trained to provide appropriate accommodations and support to employees with bipolar disorder.

4. Attention -Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD):

  • Offer workshops focusing on time management and organizational skills to support employees with ADHD in improving productivity .
  • Implement strategies such as task prioritization and clear communication to help employees manage symptoms effectively.
  • Consider workplace accommodations, such as noise-canceling headphones or flexible work hours, to create an environment conducive to focus and productivity.

5. Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):

  • Provide trauma-informed training for managers and colleagues to foster a supportive environment for employees with PTSD.
  • Offer accommodations such as modified work schedules or additional breaks to support individuals experiencing PTSD symptoms.
  • Ensure workplace policies are sensitive to potential triggers, prioritizing employee safety and well-being.

6. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD):

  • Provide training sessions to increase awareness and understanding of ASD among employees and managers.
  • Offer resources such as informational materials and online courses to educate staff about the strengths and challenges associated with ASD.
  • Implement workplace accommodations tailored to the specific needs of employees with ASD, such as flexible work schedules and sensory-friendly environments.
  • Foster open communication channels to ensure employees with ASD understand tasks and expectations.
  • Encourage coworkers to offer support and understanding, fostering a culture of inclusivity and acceptance.

As mental health professionals, it's imperative to advocate for comprehensive support mechanisms that address the diverse needs of employees in the workplace. Research indicates that workplace mental health interventions, such as training and employee assistance programs, are associated with improved employee well-being and job performance. 2 By providing targeted resources and accommodations, employers can create an environment where all employees feel valued and supported in prioritizing their mental well-being. A culture of empathy, understanding, and support can ultimately benefit the entire workplace community.

1. "Prevalence and Treatment of Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders in the United States," Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

2. "Workplace Mental Health Interventions: A Systematic Review," Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Cara Gardenswartz Ph.D.

Cara Gardenswartz, Ph.D., founded Group Therapy LA and Group Therapy NY, a psychology practice offering comprehensive care for individuals, couples, children, and groups. She earned her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and holds a Doctorate in Psychology from UCLA.

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Ultra-processed food linked to 32 harmful effects to health, review finds

World’s largest review finds direct associations with higher risks of cancer, heart disease and early death

Ultra-processed food (UPF) is directly linked to 32 harmful effects to health, including a higher risk of heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, adverse mental health and early death, according to the world’s largest review of its kind.

The findings from the first comprehensive umbrella review of evidence come amid rapidly rising global consumption of UPF such as cereals, protein bars, fizzy drinks, ready meals and fast food.

In the UK and US, more than half the average diet now consists of ultra-processed food. For some, especially people who are younger, poorer or from disadvantaged areas, a diet comprising as much as 80% UPF is typical.

The findings published in the BMJ suggest diets high in UPF may be harmful to many elements of health. The results of the review involving almost 10 million people underscored a need for measures to target and reduce exposure to UPF, the researchers said.

The review involved experts from a number of leading institutions, including Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the US, the University of Sydney and Sorbonne University in France.

Writing in the BMJ, they concluded: “Overall, direct associations were found between exposure to ultra-processed foods and 32 health parameters spanning mortality, cancer, and mental, respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and metabolic health outcomes.”

They added: “Greater exposure to ultra-processed food was associated with a higher risk of adverse health outcomes, especially cardiometabolic, common mental disorders and mortality outcomes.

“These findings provide a rationale to develop and evaluate the effectiveness of using population-based and public-health measures to target and reduce dietary exposure to ultra-processed foods for improved human health.”

Ultra-processed foods, including packaged baked goods and snacks, fizzy drinks, sugary cereals, and ready-to-eat or ready meals, undergo multiple industrial processes and often contain colours, emulsifiers, flavours and other additives. These products also tend to be high in added sugar, fat, and/or salt, but are low in vitamins and fibre.

Previous studies have linked UPF to poor health, but no comprehensive review had yet provided a broad assessment of the evidence in this area. To bridge this gap, researchers carried out an umbrella review – a high-level evidence summary – of 45 distinct pooled meta-analyses from 14 review articles associating UPF with adverse health outcomes. The review articles were all published in the past three years and involved 9.9 million people. None were funded by companies involved in the production of UPF. Estimates of exposure to ultra-processed foods were obtained from a combination of food frequency questionnaires, 24-hour dietary recalls, and dietary history and were measured as higher versus lower consumption, additional servings per day, or a 10% increment. The researchers graded the evidence as convincing, highly suggestive, suggestive, weak, or no evidence. They also assessed the quality of evidence as high, moderate, low, or very low. Overall, the results show that higher exposure to UPF was consistently associated with an increased risk of 32 adverse health outcomes, The BMJ reported. Convincing evidence showed that higher UPF intake was associated with about a 50% increased risk of cardiovascular disease-related death, a 48 to 53% higher risk of anxiety and common mental disorders, and a 12% greater risk of type 2 diabetes. Highly suggestive evidence also indicated that higher PF intake was associated with a 21% greater risk of death from any cause, a 40 to 66% increased risk of heart disease related death, obesity, type 2 diabetes and sleep problems, and a 22% increased risk of depression.

There was also evidence for associations between UPF and asthma, gastrointestinal health, some cancers and cardiometabolic risk factors, such as high blood fats and low levels of ‘good’ cholesterol, although the researchers cautioned the evidence for these links remains limited. The researchers acknowledged several limitations to the umbrella review, including that they couldn’t rule out the possibility that other unmeasured factors and variations in assessing UPF intake may have influenced their results.

Some experts not involved in the research also highlighted that much of the research included in the umbrella review was weak and also cautioned that the findings do not prove cause and effect.

However, Dr Chris van Tulleken, an associate professor at University College London and one of the world’s leading UPF experts, said the findings were “entirely consistent” with a now “enormous number of independent studies which clearly link a diet high in UPF to multiple damaging health outcomes including early death”.

“We have good understanding of the mechanisms by which these foods drive harm,” he added. “In part it is because of their poor nutritional profile – they are often high in saturated fat, salt and free sugar.

But the way they are processed is also important – they’re engineered and marketed in ways which drive excess consumption – for example they are typically soft and energy dense and aggressively marketed usually to disadvantaged communities.”

In a linked editorial , academics from Brazil said UPFs were “often chemically manipulated cheap ingredients” and “made palatable and attractive by using combinations of flavours, colours, emulsifiers, thickeners and other additives”.

They added: “It is now time for UN agencies, with member states, to develop and implement a framework convention on ultra-processed foods analogous to the framework on tobacco.”

Meanwhile, a separate study published in the Lancet Public Health suggested that more than 9,000 heart disease-related deaths could be prevented in England over the next two decades if all restaurants, fast food outlets, cafes, pubs and takeaways put calories on their menus.

  • Diets and dieting
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  1. The Mental Health Impact of Excessive Homework on Students

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  2. 31% of Employees Feel That Working From Home Has a Significant Impact

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  4. 😊 Negative effects of too much homework. Infographic: How Does Homework

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  5. Reasons Why Home Assignments Aren’t Good for Mental Health

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  6. Homework is a Mental Health Concern

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COMMENTS

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

    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 ...

  2. Why Homework is Bad: Stress and Consequences

    Less than 1 percent of the students said homework was not a stressor. The researchers asked students whether they experienced physical symptoms of stress, such as headaches, exhaustion, sleep ...

  3. Health Hazards of Homework

    Health Hazards of Homework. Pediatrics. 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.".

  4. Stanford research shows pitfalls of homework

    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)

  5. Is homework a necessary evil?

    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.

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

    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 ...

  7. Barriers Associated with the Implementation of Homework in Youth Mental

    Introduction. Homework, or between-session practice of skills learned during therapy, is one of the most integral, yet underutilized components of high-quality, evidence-based mental health care (Kazantzis & Deane, 1999).Homework activities (e.g., self-monitoring, relaxation, exposure, parent behavior management) are assigned by providers in-session and completed by patients between sessions ...

  8. Homework can be bad for your mental health. Should we get rid of it?

    Chinese schoolgirl uses robot to do her homework. Emmy Kang, mental health counselor at Humantold, says studies have shown heavy workloads can be "detrimental" for students and cause a "big ...

  9. Is Homework Necessary? Education Inequity and Its Impact on Students

    Negative Effects of Homework for Students. ... Source: USA Today, "Is It Time to Get Rid of Homework? Mental Health Experts Weigh In," 2021. Higher-achieving students — those who may have more homework — are at particular risk for stress-related health issues including sleep deprivation, weight loss, stomach problems and headaches. ...

  10. PDF THE EFFECTS OF HOMEWORK ON STUDENTS' SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL HEALTH A Thesis

    2015). The increase in academic pressure comes at a time when the prevalence of mental health conditions, namely depression and anxiety, are on the rise (American Psychological Association [APA], 2014). While the rise in mental health conditions and academic demands has been postulated upon in literature by looking at homework stress

  11. Homework, sleep insufficiency and adolescent ...

    However, excessive homework burden may have negative effects on adolescents' psychological functioning, such as depression, anxiety and various behavioral problems (Galloway et al., 2013; Nair et al., 2017; Yeo et al., 2020). ... Besides the direct effects on adolescent mental health, high homework burdens may indirectly influence mental health ...

  12. Workload and Mental Well-Being of Homeworkers

    Hence, the negative indirect effects of workload on mental well-being are higher than the positive direct effect of these two variables; as a result, the total effect of the relationship between workload and mental well-being, calculated as the sum of direct and indirect effects, is therefore negative (β = −0.12; P < 0.001; CI, −0.14 to ...

  13. The effects of homework on students' social-emotional health

    Children's and adolescents' social-emotional health is moving to the forefront of attention in schools, as depression, anxiety, and suicide rates are on the rise for youth (Bennett & Kalish, 2006). At the same time, students are experiencing intense academic demands, including an increased focus on grades, standardized test scores, and larger amounts of assigned homework (Kohn, 2006).

  14. When Is Homework Stressful? Its Effects on Students' Mental Health

    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.

  15. Infographic: How Does Homework Actually Affect Students?

    The Negative Effects on Students. Homework can affect students' health, social life and grades. The hours logged in class, and the hours logged on schoolwork can lead to students feeling overwhelmed and unmotivated. ... Homework can affect both students' physical and mental health. According to a study by Stanford University, 56 per cent of ...

  16. Does Homework Cause Stress? Exploring the Impact on Students' Mental Health

    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 ...

  17. Addressing Student Mental Health Through the Lens of Homework Stress

    Keywords: homework, stress, mental health The outcomes of adolescent mental health is a threat to students' health and wellbeing, more so than it ever has been in the modern era. As of 2019, the CDC reported a nearly 40. percent increase in feelings of sadness or hopelessness over the last ten years, and similar.

  18. How does homework affect students?

    Homework is essential in the learning process of all students. It benefits them in managing time, being organized, and thinking beyond the classroom work. When students develop good habits towards homework, they enjoy good grades. The amount of homework given to students has risen by 51 percent. In most cases, this pushes them to order for ...

  19. How Homework Is Destroying Teens' Health

    The mental effects of homework can be harmful as well. Mental health issues are often ignored, even when schools can be the root of the problem. An article from USA Today contained a quote from a licensed therapist and social worker named Cynthia Catchings, which reads, " heavy workloads can also cause serious mental health problems in the ...

  20. (PDF) Investigating the Effects of Homework on Student Learning and

    Homework has long been a topic of social research, but rela-tively few studies have focused on the teacher's role in the homework process. Most research examines what students do, and whether and ...

  21. Youth enrichment activities could harm mental health

    New study shows negative effects from adding new enrichment activities In a new study from the University of Georgia, researchers found that the time high schoolers spend on so-called enrichment activities—including tutoring, sports, school clubs and even homework—is negatively affecting their mental health.

  22. School educational models and child mental health among K-12 students

    The promotion of mental health among children and adolescents is a public health imperative worldwide, and schools have been proposed as the primary and targeted settings for mental health promotion for students in grades K-12. This review sought to provide a comprehensive understanding of key factors involved in models of school education contributing to student mental health development ...

  23. How Does Homework Affect Students' Mental Health?

    Lack of sleep is one of the most common negative effects of schoolwork. As a result of staying up late to finish their homework, students on average only get about 5 hours of sleep each night, despite the fact that humans require at least 7 hours of sleep each day. Both physical and mental health are impacted by sleep deprivation.

  24. The Impact of Homework on Student Mental Health

    Conclusion. In conclusion, it is clear that the amount of homework assigned to students can have a significant impact on their mental health. Too much homework can lead to increased stress levels, anxiety, depression, and decreased self-esteem. It is therefore important to ensure that students are not overloaded with homework and are given the ...

  25. Mental Health Issues in the Workplace

    Research indicates that workplace mental health interventions, such as training and employee assistance programs, are associated with improved employee well-being and job performance. 2 By ...

  26. Global Report Paints a 'Worrying Picture' of Mental Health

    A new report shows that the negative impact of the pandemic on global mental health persists, especially in wealthier countries and in young adults. This site is intended for healthcare professionals

  27. APA calls for prohibiting punitive isolation of youths in juvenile

    Washington — The American Psychological Association has called for prohibiting the placement of youths in isolation in juvenile justice settings, except for emergencies, citing the research showing its detrimental effects on mental health and development. "APA stands firm in its opposition to the isolation of youth in juvenile justice settings," said APA President Cynthia de las Fuentes ...

  28. Ultra-processed food linked to 32 harmful effects to health, review

    Ultra-processed food (UPF) is directly linked to 32 harmful effects to health, including a higher risk of heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, adverse mental health and early death, according ...