JOPLIN, Mo. — A child making good grades, excelling in athletics, and who’s the social butterfly — it might not be your first instinct to check in with them and make sure everything is going okay.
But, high achievers put a lot of pressure on themselves.
Helping them cope so they can take care of their mental health is the next part of our series: The Suicide Crisis: Prevention, Information, and Awareness.
Aubrey Doss, Will’s Place Therapist EDS/LPC, said, “There’s more pressure now than ever. And when you have so much pressure on you, you sometimes get stuck.”
Aubrey Doss is a Therapist at Freeman Health’s Will’s Place, but knows first-hand how high-achieving students can actually be dealing with a lot more internally than they let on.
“I put my pressure on myself. I never had a teacher or my parents ever tell me straight A’s were the expectation. But that was my expectation internally.”
Signs of anxiety or depression might get missed because that type of student is often so involved.
“They might be academically doing well in all their classes, they might also be in sports. They’re usually known for being in multiple clubs and multiple activities.”
It’s something Joplin High School Counselor Marda Schroeder sees all the time.
Marda Schroeder, JHS School Counselor, said, “I have students that will load up on Advanced Placement or very rigorous coursework, dual-credit coursework. They’re also on student council, they may be an officer in another student organization, they’re working part-time.”
But when students set big goals and aspirations for themselves, they may not achieve, it could lead to some mental health concerns.
“All it takes is one thing to happen for everything to start falling apart for them.”
“It’s a lot of ‘should’ thinking. I should be able to do these things. And then you can’t, or you don’t do as well as you thought. That’s a lot of disappointment and it’s a lot of heartbreak,” said Doss.
Thankfully, some resources exists and there are steps parents can take to care for their child’s mental health.
“There is actually a wonderful program — I wish every parent ever had to go through. It’s called Youth Mental Health First Aid, and it really looks at, like, what is a typical behavior? How do you know if it’s not a typical behavior?”
“Talk to them, because on the outside it may look like everything’s going well. Parents, talk to your kids. Kids, learn to talk to their parents. Talk to their counselor. Talk to their teachers,” said Schroeder.
And hopefully that line of communication can help students maintain their mental wellness.
“It’s important to find that balance in our life and to learn to prioritize what is really important to me and what can I just say, ‘That’s not essential right now, I’m going to focus on these things.'”
If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health and needs someone to talk to, we urge you to call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-talk.