Student Mental Health: Teens and Depression

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It can be easy to write off moodiness as hormones or teen drama, but could there be something more to it? The results from a Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy Study show that depression increased significantly in the U.S. from 2005 to 2015 with the most rapid rise among kids ages 12 to 17 to 12.7%.[1] Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth ages 12-18.[2] And depression that goes untreated is the strongest risk factor for suicidal behavior.[3] There are several theories about why this increase is occurring, from the negative influence of social media to bullying in schools to peer pressure.

While this data may seem scary,  equipped with information, you can help the tweens and teens in your life begin to identify the symptoms of depression and seek help.

Here are some things to look out for:
-Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
-Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
-Poor performance in school
-Increased substance abuse
-Troubled relationships
-Irritability and anger
-Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
-Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
-Decreased energy or lethargy
-Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
-Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
-Sleep disturbances including difficulty sleeping, early-morning wakefulness, or oversleeping
-Appetite and or weight changes
-Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
-Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause that do not ease even with treatment
-Risky behavior or questionable decisions

Not everyone who is depressed experiences every one of these symptoms. Some people experience only a few while others may experience many.[4]  Teens specifically may have signs of extreme irritability, amplified reactions, anger, or anxiety instead of the overwhelming sadness often associated with depression.[5] Because symptoms can vary, a diagnosis is often challenging to make because clinical depression can manifest in so many different ways.

This is why recognizing and responding to student mental health issues is so important when spotting changes in behavior.[6] Talking to kids and asking the right questions from one-on-one conversations to anonymous surveys can help schools discover underlying causes for worrying situations, such as increased absenteeism, lower academic achievement, and increased substance abuse.

How Can Schools Help?
Educators and administers can be first to notice changes in physical and mental health in students. Here are a few ways to help teens and their families you observe struggling:

-Help ensure a positive, safe school environment
-Encourage them to seek help
-Educate staff, parents, and students on symptoms of and help for mental health problems
-Promote social and emotional competency and build resilience
-Teach and reinforce positive behaviors and decision-making
-Encourage good health – physical and mental
-Help ensure access to school-based mental health supports[7]

Pride Surveys offers opportunities for tweens and teens to share their thoughts on problem behaviors, bullying, and other issues that impact student engagement through our Learning Environment Survey as well as our Social, Emotional and Bullying Behavior Survey. The benefit of choosing a survey company is that we take the guesswork out of the surveying process to ask the difficult questions. Browse the different types of scalable student surveys we offer and find out why Pride Surveys is the best choice to help you survey your school. Questions? Give us a call at 800-279-6361 or fill out our quick online contact form.



[1] “Depression is on the Rise in the US, Especially Among Young Teens.” Retrieved 12 December, 2017 at

[2] “Suicide Survivor Inspired Teens and Adolescents.” Retrieved on 12 December, 2017 at

[3] “Depression is on the Rise in the US, Especially Among Young Teens.” Retrieved 12 December, 2017 at

[4] “Teenage Depression Study: Understanding Depression in Teenagers.” Retrieved 12 December, 2017 at

[5] “Teen Depression: Symptoms and Tips for Parents.” Retrieved 12 December, 2017 at

[6] “Position Statement 41: Early Identification of Mental Health Issues in Young People.” Retrieved 12 December, 2017 at

[7] “Talk About Mental Health: For Educators.” Retrieved 12 December, 2017 at

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