Great expectations

Overwhelming pressure to achieve academic success takes its mental toll on a teenager

Philip*, a 16-year-old Year 12 student, was referred to us by his GP for assessment.

His mother had noticed a superficial cut on his forearm and, on questioning, Philip admitted he had cut himself a few days earlier because he had felt “so awful”.

His parents had, understandably, felt very upset and contacted their GP, leading to the referral.

Philip is of mixed Asian–Australian ethnic background with supportive parents and a younger sister. His father is the managing director of a company and his mother is a marketing consultant.

Philip was described as a “perfect child” and an exemplary student at the private boys’ school he attended. He excelled in all subjects as well as in sport, was liked by his teachers and respected among his social peer group.

His future, together with his wish to study law at university, appeared assured, especially as his marks were always in the