#ReleaseThePressure by Mirinda

Esha Kode

26 August 2022


Mirinda is a soft drink brand that is sold globally across the world. Mirinda India kickstarted the #ReleaseThePressure campaign to advocate for the overwhelming amount of academic stress that students in India face. 

A few years ago I watched Mirinda’s #ReleaseThePressure campaign video and found myself sobbing on my bathroom floor because of how real and authentic it was. Mirinda was often depicted as a quirky brand and appealed to the younger people because which kid doesn’t love a good fizzy drink? However, with this new campaign, Mirinda India took a more serious stand by providing a platform for those same youth to speak to their parents about the pressure they feel to excel in their academics. 

Why is academic stress such a big deal?

For those who grew up in situations where education was not the utmost priority and were not constantly pressured/pestered to excel beyond limits in an academic setting, wrapping our minds around the fact that school can be the cause of mental health issues can be tough. 

Education, in countries like the U.S., is viewed as a tool for knowledge. On the other hand, for children of immigrant parents or children in other areas of the world, education may be their escape. The more educated a child is, the greater chance the entire family may have of improving their lifestyle. This is because with education comes employment which comes with salaries that will inevitably provide for the entire family. 

The education system in India is rigorous and competitive. Academic stress in India, specifically, greatly impacts a kid’s mental health. According to a 2020 National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) report, “a student took their own life every 42 minutes; that is, every day, more than 34 students died by suicide.” 

“The few publicly-funded educational institutions in the country, such as Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and medical colleges, see huge numbers of applications as students compete for a limited number of seats; those who can afford it either go to foreign countries to study or join private universities in India.”

The Wire

As an Indian American who only ever studied in the U.S, the American educational system is holistic in the sense that there is an equal amount of emphasis placed on extracurriculars and academics. However, because I grew up within an Indian household, academics were the #1 priority for me over any of the extracurriculars. Despite this belief, my parents still encouraged me to take up any and all sorts of hobbies on the side, such as Taekwondo, Bollywood dancing, tennis, etc. The difference, though, between my parents and most of my American friends’ parents was that my friends were allowed to create a career out of their hobbies – some were even allowed to not go to college (this was unheard of for me!). Thus, the Indian mentality, for the large part, revolves around academic education. 

Every time I visited India, I’d see my cousins and friends listing off everything they had to do in one day and most of it was only related to school. Most of them would wake up at 5am, go to tuition, then go to school, come back home, then go to a different tuition, then stay up till late at night to finish homework, and then the schedule would repeat. Where was their time to go out with friends, go to dance class or tennis practice, binge Netflix for hours, or even sleep for a sufficient amount of time? I initially felt as if I wasn’t doing enough every time I saw these kids my own age grinding their butts off while I just struggled to balance going to tennis practice and doing only a few hours of homework. Later on I realized that I would not have survived in such a situation because I need that balance and that break between school and life. Every child does. 

With all this said, I’m not saying that the American educational system is superior. Every system has its pros and cons. I’m simply sharing my own observations. 

“Schools have the power to show individuals that their choice can be denied based on their gender, temperament, religion, race, or sexual preference. This has a profound effect on them and how they view themselves as individuals as their intuitive needs are stubbed to the ground. Schools shouldn’t be a place where it expects everyone to pass off as a neurotypical or able-bodied individual. They should instead be aware enough to cater to the needs of every single individual as this will balance the scales of inequality. We were raised in schools where there isn’t space for everyone. The kind of space we like to be in while learning new things or exploring life as we know it. This sets us up for the manifestation of scarcity or a survival belief system. Schools or organizations should change how they expect all individuals to conform to their standards and beliefs about what capable students should and should not look like.”

a Happy2Thrive Volunteer who completed her K-undergrad education in India

What’s the solution?

I believe there are two sets of people that need to be targeted in order to alleviate academic stress. 

The first set of people are the financially privileged parents/guardians. Awareness is key. Learn how academic stress can impact your child negatively. Understand your privilege and create enough space for your child to pursue a profession that they are passionate about. Realize that there are an unimaginable number of professions and opportunities. Thus, don’t limit your child to the typical doctor, lawyer, engineer. Allow them to grow into themselves and be a part of something that brings them complete joy. 

The second set of people are those families that need their child to become the best of the best so that they can help the family come out of whatever dire state they’re in. For this set of people, I think the governments have to do a better job at caring for their people. Instead of making the rich richer, why don’t governments find ways to better the living situations for the poor? With solutions to help the entire family, I believe that will aid in reducing the pressure placed on the children to take ownership of the family and all of its problems. 

It’s important to note that none of these solutions are backed by any sort of science/research. These are my opinions and that means you can agree or disagree. This post is just a way for me to bring the impacts of extreme academic stress and mental health to the spotlight so we can cultivate discussions, leading to greater awareness. 




  • Deb M says:

    I have taught many different cultures/economic status students. I have seen both the he dangers and advantages to having high expectations for your children. I believe BALANCE is the key. With awareness, articles such as this, the new infusion of Social Emotional Learning, it IS possible to help all. Let’s continue to have this dialogue with all. Thank you for an eloquent article.

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