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High achieving students at risk for stress and mental health issues, study finds

Posted at 4:45 PM, Sep 30, 2019

BOCA RATON, Fla. — High achieving students are making the grade, but at what cost?

A new report reveals that higher IQs could lead to a higher risk of mental health problems.

Five days a week, you’ll find 15-year-old Elle Buckley at Grandview Preparatory Academy in Boca Raton.

Buckley is a full-time high school school student, a part-time college student, ballet dancer, pianist and climate change activist.

"I, like everyone else, find myself wrestling with ideas of perfection and imperfection," said Buckley.

Buckley is known as a high achieving student.

According to a study published this Summer by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, students like Buckley are now considered at risk of chronic stress that can affect their health and well being.

"I do find myself beating myself up," said Buckley. " texted my mom the other day after taking a practice test and I dropped maybe a few points and I was still disappointed and I needed to take a break and do something else."

That’s when her mother, Beth, typically steps in..

"Today for example, I said to her, no homework, you’re not doing any homework. Like, no homework!" said Beth Buckley.

Psychotherapist Anni Johnston said she’s treating more students in the high achieving category.

"The high achieving school student is at equal risk as kids with poverty, kids with trauma backgrounds, kids that are in foster care," said Johnston, a psychotherapist at Therapeutic Oasis.

If this goes untreated, what's at stake?

"These are still developing brains," said Johnston. "So if those brains are using substances to cope or setting down neuro pathways of high stress and hyper response, what that means is that kid carries that brain with them as they become young adults. So what matters here is their entire neurological functioning is going to be affected and it’s going to stay that way unless they retrain themselves. So switching it before it’s set in stone, so to speak."

An assignment this mother and daughter are working to ace.

"I try my best, and I can’t expect to do anything else," said Buckley.