We are continually grateful for our introduction to Karen, and all that she has done for us.
Even after all of the news that has come to light and how much the world is changing, nationwide our young people are experiencing unprecedented rates of anxiety and depression. The groups of students who are experiencing a worsening list of mental illness are “high achievers”. Emerging research is finding that students in schools with high standardized test scores, varied extracurricular and academic offerings, as well as graduates who headed off to top colleges — are experiencing higher rates of behavioral and mental health problems compared with the national norms. The competitive environments for high achievers can come at a psychological cost.
High achieving students these days are feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, sometimes crying and acting out, without knowing why. Many of our clients have children who report that even after they are diagnosed with anxiety, obsessive compulsive and bi-polar disorders, the idea of suicide pops into their head at times and they often begin cutting secretly. After graduating high school many of these students find their mental health issues continued in college.
For any of our School Solution students who might be experiencing a level of distress that has persisted or that is so significant that they’re having difficulty functioning — and if they’re feeling persistent feelings of hopelessness — it’s very important to know that they may very well have a common mental illness. However, because these ailments are treatable, psychologists recommend that students seek support from experts and advocates, like the team at The School Solution. When parents ask us “where is all of this pressure coming from”, we ask them: Where is it not?”
Research has shown that the conditions harming our adolescent youth are certainly the most obvious factors such as poverty, trauma, discrimination and “excessive pressure to excel”. It may sound counterintuitive that relatively affluent teens are also in the same category as our country’s most vulnerable youth. While the “stressors” are different, researchers are finding that teens across a wide social spectrum are “at risk” for elevated levels of chronic stress that has been affecting their health and well-being.
This last year was a hard one for everyone, but for High School students bound for college, the high admissions standards, high-pressure academic and athletic environments are filled with high-achievers. These students are spending so much time looking at a screen and there’s every little bit of comparison, and people’s “perfect lives” being displayed on social media, greatly undermines well-being. These focused students who have largely been at home are having high anxiety issues. The stress has grown to the point where even the most successful H.S. students are in danger of failing emotionally even while achieving their 4.5 GPAs
It doesn’t stop there, more than half of students served at college counseling centers around the country have been listed as having severe psychological problems, and suicides are at their highest in a century. Researchers warn this psychic stress is widespread both on college campuses but even in the pre-collegiate years in preparation. With students increasingly isolated and anxious, many colleges are responding by adding even more mental health counselors. On campuses across the country, 8 out of 10 schools report that student mental health has become more of a priority than it was even three years ago, according to a survey the American Council on Education conducted earlier this year. Almost 75% of the colleges surveyed said they’re spending more money now on mental health initiatives than three years ago.
How did it get to the point that we need wellness centers, medications, and therapists for so many of our students? As parents get kids out of the house to play, and replace screen time with face time and schools continue building a culture of acceptance and self-worth for each child, there is still a need for guidance and counseling. This is where the experts at The School Solution come in.
Although consultants originally mainly helped place students in college prep schools, traditional boarding schools and institutions of higher learning, our role gave way to other types of consulting namely in behavioral health and addiction treatment. As referring professionals we can work with families and students to help them find the most effective care and support to meet their individual needs.
We are focused on the clinical and therapeutic aspects of the challenges high achieving students are facing and we are familiar with programs such as psychiatric hospitals, residential treatment centers, wilderness or outdoor therapy programs, therapeutic boarding schools, recovery support services and young adult transition programs, as well as many other resources to provide behavioral health treatment and other therapeutic support. For more information on how The School Solution can help you and you family reach out to us today.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or use the Crisis Text Line by texting “Home” to 741741. More resources are available at SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources.