School can be stressful — there is overwhelming pressure to do better than your peers, prepare for exams, participate in extracurricular activities and, worst of all, the bullying. These things could lead to a variety of mental health issues, including eating disorders, self-harm and depression. However, most parents, and even teachers, tend to ignore the severity of the situation.
A number of young people all across the world suffer from extreme anxiety and stress. The example of the princess of Japan, who has recently stopped attending school due to fatigue and weakness reportedly caused by summer exam stress and the preparation for an athletic event, is just one of many.
The concerns about the health of Princess Aiko, the only daughter of the Crown Prince and Princess of Japan, surfaced after the 14-year-old missed almost an entire month of school and her mother, Princess Masako, took her to the hospital.
The Imperial Household Agency told the local media the princess is currently resting at home. Although her condition is improving gradually, including her appetite, she continues to be weak.
Sadly, this is not the first time the princess has been absent from school.
In 2010, a spokesperson for the Japanese palace said the then 8-year-old was staying away from her elementary school because some boys in her class were bullying her. At the time, the young girl had complained of stomachache and had expressed feeling deep anxiety. However, the school claimed the incident might just have been a misunderstanding.
What is even more disturbing is that the local media and citizens of Japan have dubbed Aiko “the princess who never smiles.”
Crown Princess Masako also suffered from a stress-related health condition for over a decade following the birth of her daughter.
She completely withdrew from social activities after facing criticism for not giving birth to a son to perpetuate the line of succession — because a woman has nothing to do with her baby’s gender, a significant number of people across the world continue to blame the mother for not producing a son.
Mosako, who recently welcomed the Dutch royal family to Japan, was diagnosed with a stress-induced adjustment disorder, also known as situational depression, in 2004. She appears to have canceled her other public engagements to look after Aiko.
“Life can be very difficult for any teenage girl, but Princess Aiko is in an even harder position,” Makoto Watanabe, a lecturer in communications and media at Hokkaido Bunkyo University, told the South China Morning Post. “In the past, the children of the imperial family received special treatment from teachers and fellow students at school and university, but that has changed as society has changed.”
While the imperial family is still largely revered among ordinary Japanese, the draconian system of succession has raised the issue of abdication one again. While Aiko’s father Naruhito is currently the crown prince, his younger brother Akishino’s son would be eligible to become emperor under the country’s male-only succession system.
As for the teenage princess, she is currently not bedbound, but her recovery is expected to take some time.