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On Academic Standards and Mental Health

By Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber:

Last month, a reporter from The Daily Princetonian asked for my views about the relationship between academic rigor and mental health.

I said what I believe: that a challenging, high-aspiration academic environment is fully consistent with, and even helpful to, student mental health.

That comment has provoked debate and discussion. Understandably so: Student mental health is an urgent priority for me and for Princeton. And any student can struggle with academic work here — I certainly did.

At a time when students report increasing levels of mental distress, in a year when we are grieving the deaths of multiple community members, and in an era rendered precarious by threats of political conflict and environmental crisis, we all need to care about mental health and treat one another with compassion.

As I said in my interview with the ‘Prince,’ we also need to pay attention to data that can help us understand and address the problems we confront.

What does that data tell us? Reports from the Healthy Minds Study, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other sources show, among other things, that increased mental health challenges afflict an entire generation of young people. The problem affects young people whether they are in college or not, and it affects college students across all varieties of institutions and academic programs.

Read the rest of the article in The Daily Princetonian.