Saturday, 2 January 2016

The Drive to Succeed and Young People's Mental Health

Jasmine Parker - Wellcome Images
Today Vicki Abeles on the New York Times reports on a new study by Stuart Slavin showing that one in three young people in the States experience anxiety or depression due to school-related stress.

This does not apply only to teenagers, but to children aged 5 to 7 as well. The article suggests that the drive to succeed creates stress, and paradoxically undermines academic success.

1 comment:

  1. This article reminds me of one the work of my students, Lizzie Gordon, who is currently working on an empirical project with sibling pairs where they consider there has been a significant difference in academic success. Some really interesting findings are developing, not least the complex emotional impact that success can have on the sibling (and family) system. Shame, guilt, pride and jealousy are all complex emotions that are experienced when there are differences in academic success in childhood, especially during adolescence. In addition, there are cognitive implications, especially in terms of beliefs about the self and family system (e.g. changes in self-esteem, concerns about competition for parental-resources). Lizzie's work has got me interested in what could be called the secondary costs and benefits of success and failure, and specifically how they play out in family and group systems. Success doesn't necessarily bring an increase in positive affect across the system, and I wonder if failure necessarily bring more negative affect. In the context of adverse health and social situations, as we are proposing to explore (early psychosis, dementia, resettlement from prison, addiction, chronic illness) I would about these secondary affective and cognitive costs and benefits of succeeding and failing. And how these are perceived by different members of a family group.