Bergen Summer Research School

Stress and Mental Health in Education

This course will delve into the current economics research related to the rise and effects of stress and mental health issues in education.

Examination hall

Main content

Course leader
Catalina Franco, Researcher at Center for Applied Research (SNF) at NHH – Norwegian School of Economics.

Course description
Our main focus will be on the economic consequences of stress and mental health issues in what pertains to educational access and success.

Stress is ubiquitous in modern society. When stress becomes overwhelming and prolonged, it can lead to mental and physical health issues. According to the OECD, mental health disorders affect half of the global population at some point in their lives, with far-reaching consequences. Mental health issues not only have a profound impact on individuals but also on economies, leading to over 4% of global GDP loss and ranking as the leading cause of disability worldwide. 

In education, the effects of even mild forms of stress can range from affecting everyday school activities, to exam performance and overall success in education. Findings from the 2015 National College Health Assessment in the United States revealed that three out of every four college students report experiencing stress during their college years. These early-life struggles can predict future mental health diagnoses and interfere with human capital accumulation and success in the labor market.

Learning outcomes

Upon completion of the course, the candidate can:


  • Critically reflect on the different identification strategies used to assess the effects of stress and mental health issues on educational outcomes.
  • Identify the mechanisms behind how stress affects educational outcomes based on the psychology literature.


  • Formulate their own idea on a research project related to stress and mental health in education.
  • Write a referee report on a current working paper related to the course topics.
  • Apply econometric techniques/advanced methodologies to analyse stress and mental health in education.

General competence

  • Explain current findings of the state-of-the-art research in economics on the causes and effects of stress and mental health issues.

Suggested literature / reading list

Acampora, M., Capozza, F., & Moghani, V. (2022). Mental Health Literacy, Beliefs and Demand for Mental Health Support among University Students (No. 22-079/I). Tinbergen Institute.

Allcott, H., Braghieri, L., Eichmeyer, S., & Gentzkow, M. (2020). The welfare effects of social media. American Economic Review, 110(3), 629-676.Beilock, S. (2011). Choke. Hachette UK.

Braghieri, L., Levy, R. E., & Makarin, A. (2022). Social media and mental health. American Economic Review, 112(11), 3660-3693.

Cahlíková, J., Cingl, L., & Levely, I. (2020). How stress affects performance and competitiveness across gender. Management Science, 66(8), 3295-3310.

Cai, X., Lu, Y., Pan, J., & Zhong, S. (2019). Gender gap under pressure: evidence from China's National College entrance examination. Review of Economics and Statistics, 101(2), 249-263.

Cassar, L., Fischer, M., & Valero, V. (2022). Keep calm and carry on: The short-vs. long-run effects of mindfulness meditation on (academic) performance (No. 15723). IZA Discussion Papers.

Cavatorta, E., Grassi, S., & Lambiris, M. (2021). Digital antianxiety treatment and cognitive performance: An experimental study. European Economic Review, 132, 103636.

Franco, C. and I. Skarpeid (2023). Gender differences in performance at the top of the distribution. Technical report.

Franco, C. and M. Gomez-Ruiz (2023). Bridging the Gender Gap in Access to STEM through In-Exam Stress Management. Technical report.

Hangen, E. J., Elliot, A. J., & Jamieson, J. P. (2019). Stress reappraisal during a mathematics competition: Testing effects on cardiovascular approach-oriented states and exploring the moderating role of gender. Anxiety, Stress, & Coping, 32(1), 95-108.

Harris, R. B., Grunspan, D. Z., Pelch, M. A., Fernandes, G., Ramirez, G., & Freeman, S. (2019). Can test anxiety interventions alleviate a gender gap in an undergraduate STEM course?. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 18(3), ar35.

Jamieson, J. P., Crum, A. J., Goyer, J. P., Marotta, M. E., & Akinola, M. (2018). Optimizing stress responses with reappraisal and mindset interventions: An integrated model. Anxiety, Stress, & Coping, 31(3), 245-261.

Jamieson, J. P., Mendes, W. B., Blackstock, E., & Schmader, T. (2010). Turning the knots in your stomach into bows: Reappraising arousal improves performance on the GRE. Journal of experimental social psychology, 46(1), 208-212.

Ramirez, G., & Beilock, S. L. (2011). Writing about testing worries boosts exam performance in the classroom. science, 331(6014), 211-213.

Shreekumar, A., & Vautrey, P. L. (2022). Managing emotions: The effects of online mindfulness meditation on mental health and economic behavior. Tech. Rep., MIT.


Participation at the BSRS is credited under the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). Participants submitting an essay, in a form of a publishable manuscript of 10-20 pages, after the end of the summer school will receive 10 ECTS. Deadline for submission will be decided by your course leader.

It is also possible to participate without producing an essay. This will give you 5 ECTS. In order to receive credits, we expect full participation in the course-specific modules, plenary events and roundtables.

Course leader

Catalina Franco is a researcher at Center for Applied Research (SNF) at NHH – Norwegian School of Economics. She is affiliated with the Center for Experimental Research on Fairness, Inequality and Rationality (FAIR) and the Development Learning Lab (DLL). Her research focuses on education challenges in industrialized and developing countries, often using behavioral economics as an approach.

Franco uses both administrative data and traditional evaluation methods and design my own randomized studies. Particularly, Catalina is interested in gender differences in performance and academic decisions in high stakes environments, such as college entrance exams.