Academic pressure and adolescent depression, self-harm and suicide

Year of award: 2021


  • Dr Gemma Lewis

    University College London, United Kingdom

Project summary

Rates of adolescent depression, self-harm and suicide are rising but we have a poor understanding of what causes these mental health problems, and how to prevent them. There are widespread concerns about the impact of academic pressure on adolescents in the UK and abroad, but its relationship with mental health has rarely been investigated. I will use data from five large studies to investigate whether academic pressure increases the risk of adolescent depression and self-harm. I will also investigate how timing within the school year relates to adolescent suicides and primary care and hospital visits for depression, self-harm, and anxiety. I will collaborate with adolescents, teachers, policy makers, families, and charities to ensure my research has strong potential to lead to interventions in schools and policy. If my hypothesis is correct, academic pressure could be modified in large-scale preventative interventions in schools, and through longer-term changes to education policy.