Forum: Put health first and don't glorify overwork

One of the more subtle causes of poor mental health is the culture of glorifying overwork.

This culture is based on the belief that long hours of work and constantly pushing beyond one's limits are the best indicators of success and effort.

With social media, our exposure to the narrative of 24/7 productivity and late-night studying has increased exponentially, forming the perception that to "work hard enough" means to work non-stop at all hours of the day.

This work ethic is often highly praised, which in turn normalises overwork.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with putting in one's best to ensure a job well done, and every student may have to stay up once in a while to catch up on work.

The issue comes when students begin to believe that their productivity defines their worth, and push themselves too hard to the point of burnout.

Overworking can lead to consequences such as lethargy, bad mood and brain fog.

In the long run, this might take a toll on a person's physical and mental health, which could quickly snowball into more adverse repercussions such as insomnia and anxiety.

Hence, I urge students in the midst of preparing for exams and who have been experiencing signs of overwork to take a break, and to remember that their productivity does not determine their worth.

Ultimately, it will take a joint effort from schools, parents and, most importantly, students themselves to dismantle the toxic culture of overwork and to put health first.

Kooi Xiu Min, 18

JC2 student


If you are 21 years or below and want to share your opinion, e-mail your letter to with the subject header "Voices of Youth". Include your age, contact details and school level if you're a student. Please keep your letter to 300 words.

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