Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Educational Leadership

Major Professor

Linda Raffaele-Mendez, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elizabeth Shaunnessy-Dedrick, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Tony Tan, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert Dedrick, Ph.D.


academic stressor, adolescents, high achieving students, mental health, social support


The purpose of this study was to examine how academic stress affects Chinese high achieving secondary students’ mental health. Potential moderating effects of perceived social support and gender on the relationship between academic stress and depression were also examined. Current literature suggests Chinese high school students report greater academic stress and depression than their counterparts overseas (Sun, Dunne, Hou, & Xu, 2013), but it is unclear about the status of high achieving Chinese students as well as how social support works as a protective factor on this particular population. In order to fill this gap, the current study recruited a diverse sample of 133 Key school students and 99 IB students from eight classrooms of two schools during Fall 2017, and administered questionnaires on participants’ academic stress, depression level, perceived social support, and demographic information. Result indicated IB students experience more academic stress and depression compared to Key school students, and female IB students experience more depression than male IB students. Although perceived social support was negatively related to academic stress and depression for both Key and IB students, it was not an effective moderator for either group. Female Key school students were more likely to report higher level of depression compared to male students when they were experiencing similar level of academic stress. This study highlighted the importance of mental health services to high achieving students, discussed appropriate intervention programs for this group of students, and suggested directions for the future research.