Overeducated and Unhappy

Highly-educated Americans may earn more money, but they're also in for more misery, according to new research from the Stanford School of Medicine. The findings indicate that people with advanced degrees are at greater risk for mental health problems than the rest of the US. Employees at a Northern California office where 51 percent of workers had a master's or doctoral degree were evaluated for their overall mental health status. The highly educated workforce scored well below the national average.

"Unfortunately, we don't know why," says study author Cheryl Koopman, PhD. "Possibly it has to with the nature of the kind of work that the highly educated do." Koopman and principal investigator Robert Matano, Ph.D., originally set out to research if interventions--such as treating alcoholism or learning better coping strategies--could help treat mental health problems at work. The link to education came up unexpectedly.

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Overall, those with advanced degrees fell into the 32nd percentile, 18 points below the national average. Those who had recently completed their graduate programs were at greatest risk for mental health problems. The researchers attribute this to a lack of experience in coping with life's hardships.

Interestingly, women with advanced degrees seemed to be doing better than men when it came to mental health. However, the researchers noted that the study was very limited in scope, having examined only a single company. Further studies would be needed to confirm the findings.

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