Earlier this week, the Justice Department announced charges related to a corruption system in colleges. Hollywood actresses and Wall Street executives were among those involved in paying a business to help cheat children on college entrance tests or bribe sports recruiters to increase chances of their children to enroll in prestigious universities.
This scandal raises innumerable systemic issues, including how wealth and privileges often determine who is able to pursue higher education. The issue of mental health is less discussed in this conversation. The situation only once again underlines the overwhelming pressure on young adults to appear and succeed – pressure that can come from themselves and, most dangerously, from their parents.
A new study published Thursday in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology of the American Psychological Association found that rates of depression, psychological distress and suicidal thoughts had increased dramatically in the last 10 to 12 years among younger people 26 years old. The symptoms associated with major depression increased by 52% among adolescents aged 12 to 17 – those who are in primary and in preparation for university.
Researchers attribute this problem primarily to social media, which includes the immense pressure placed on young adults to make it perfect. That's right, and it's a conclusion that studies find over and over again. But experts say – and other research shows – that the pressure to be perfect also extends to academics.
"The feeling that success or failure are very important issues has led to an intensification of competition for entry into elite colleges … there is no room for improvement. ;fault. If you get a bachelor's degree in seventh grade, you have the impression that your future is down, "said Victor Schwartz, chief physician of the Jed Foundation, a mental health organization focused primarily on adolescents. "The result is that all kinds of efforts – legal and sometimes not – have been put in place to control the system and the results."
This extreme focus on parenting success can then have detrimental effects on the mental health of their children, Schwartz said. Nor is it new information. Previous research has shown that perfectionism increases the risk of depression in a person, especially when the pressure comes from parents. But it is worth coming back to this new report on mental health and news about the college admissions scandal.
"The intense competition for academic success, or the appearance of success, and CV building have no doubt taken time on social skills and link building activities such as membership in clubs , intramural sports and even just the time to play or dream awake, "he added. "All of this can feed a sense of anxiety and desperation in many young people."
"The intense competition for academic success, or the appearance of success, and CV building have no doubt taken time on social skills and link building activities such as membership in clubs , intramural sports and even just the time to play or dream awake. "
– Victor Schwartz, Chief Medical Officer of the Jed Foundation
In an article for Psych Central, Lynn Margolies, a Massachusetts psychologist, explains how parents' views and behavior about academic success – that it's about pushing kids to not fail or intervene so that they can not – can better train their children. that they realize.
"Our teens are rooted in a culture of competition and perfectionism, where success is defined by status, performance and appearance," wrote Margolies. "These values are transmitted to our children non-verbally through our emotional state and what we notice, impress, congratulate or discourage in them."
It is not a provocation to say that cheating by paying the child in an elite school does not help, even if the intention is on the contrary. But exerting intense pressure to succeed – even if it involves resorting to illegal measures – has negative effects on mental health, which could potentially alter the rest of their lives.
"We need to understand that our functioning as a society also has a profound impact on the growth and development of young people. Our decisions and actions can and often have consequences far beyond what we immediately imagine, "said Schwartz.
He added: "This [new study] and the recent [college admission] The scandal shows how social influences and our daily behavior can have profound consequences for those around us. "