What is it about?

Parents want their children to attend schools with good standardized test scores, but achievement pressures in these schools can result in mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and substance use. We discuss the underlying reasons and provide directions to enhance these students' well-being and resilience.

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Why is it important?

Students attending high-achieving schools (HASs) are now noted to be a distinct "at-risk" group, along with others such as youth in deep poverty or those with foster parents. This is because of ongoing pressures to achieve and excel, which can lead to serious mental health mental health problems of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. As parents and educators, it is critical to understand the sources of these destructive forces and to systematically reduce them. The need for this is even more pronounced now, as stressors resulting from the pandemic have added to the challenges already experienced by HAS students.


I wrote this article not just as a scientist but also a mother who raised children in high-achieving schools. Both my co-authors and I also directly experienced not just the rewards, but also the challenges, of being educated in such settings. Along with all the scientific evidence, our personal experiences have brought deep commitment to fostering well-being this generation of HAS youth: Far too many struggle silently, with serious mental health difficulties, as they strive to maintain good "resumé's" during their childhood and adolescent years.

Professor Suniya S Luthar
Authentic Connections

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: High-achieving schools connote risks for adolescents: Problems documented, processes implicated, and directions for interventions., American Psychologist, November 2019, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/amp0000556.
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