Depression in Children and Adolescents

welcome back

Depression in Children and Adolescents

Steering Committee

March 01, 2024

In 2022, the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, released a “Master Plan for Kids’ Mental Health” as an answer to the spotlight the global pandemic shone on our nation’s mental health crisis. The master plan addresses the heavy toll being shouldered by the children and adolescents in the state of California:

  • Over 284,000 youth cope with major depression
  • 66% of kids with depression do not receive treatment
  • Suicide rates for kids ages 10-18 increased 20% between 2019-20201
  • Perceived recovery from substance use and mental health issues

While learning to balance life’s ups and downs is a part of growing up, kids in California are struggling. In “The State of Mental Health in America” report for 2023 from Mental Health America (MHA), California ranks 28th out of 51 (for all the states and the District of Columbia) in access to care for youth experiencing mental illness.2 In this same report, almost 15% of California’s youth ages 12-17 reported suffering from at least one major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year, even higher than the number reported in Governor Newsom’s Master Plan.3

Depression in children and adolescents is typically diagnosed when they have persistent feelings of sadness that interfere with their ability to function. While depression was long seen as an adult problem, we know now that depression affects many children and adolescents. And while the diagnosis is the same, the symptoms can be very different from those exhibited by adults and vary greatly from child to child.

Depression in children and adolescents can look like:

  • “Acting out behaviors”
    • This can include defiance and/or disruptiveness.
  • Anger or irritability
  • Difficulty with school
    • This can include changes in grades and/or attendance.
  • Fatigue and sleep difficulties
    • This can include changes in grades and/or attendance.
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Restlessness
  • Loss of pleasure from friends, family, or activities they once enjoyed.
  • Mood disruptions
    • This can include mood swings or pervasive sadness that seems out of proportion to the situation or persists and overwhelms the child or teen.
  • Physical complaints
  • Preoccupation with death and/or suicidal thoughts

 

Depression in young individuals can be caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Some of these factors may include:

  • A family history of depression
  • Trauma or loss
  • Chronic illness
  • Academic or social pressures
  • Bullying
  • Low self-esteem

Untreated depression can have profound effects on a child or teen's development and functioning. It can interfere with their academic performance, social relationships, and ability to engage in daily activities. It may also increase the risk of substance abuse, self-harm, and suicide. According to MHA’s 2023 report California ranked 46th out of 51 estimating that almost 70% youth with a MDE did not receive treatment.4 Clearly there is still much work to be done in California to ensure that children and adolescents receive the care they need.

So, how can schools help? The strategies schools can use to help identify and support kids with depression include:

  • Encouraging relationships and connectedness5
    • Providing time and space for kids to establish trust, build relationships, and strengthen friendships can be built into the classroom and schoolwide activities.
    • Helping kids feel connected to school helps can help kids feel valued and cared for leading to better mental health outcomes.
  • Educating teachers and staff
    • Providing opportunities for teachers and other school staff to learn about the signs and symptoms of depression in children and adolescents can help identify kids who are struggling and get them help early.
    • Encouraging positive mental health self-care for staff too.
  • Helping to reduce stigma by normalizing talking about mental health through school campaigns, speakers, and conversations.6
  • Utilizing built in systems, such as the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS), to screen for depression and provide support as needed.
  • Promoting social emotional skill building and competency.
  • Helping ensure a positive and safe school environment.
  • Reviewing school policies to ensure equity and access to services.
  • Communicating with caregivers and encouraging their involvement.
  • In the classroom, teachers can offer support by 7,8
    • Being a source of encouragement to kids who are struggling.
    • Making adjustments and/or accommodations to complete assignments when necessary.
    • Making physical activity a part of everyday routines.
    • Incorporating mindfulness practices.
    • Using trauma-informed practices so that all students feel like they belong.
    • Teaching and reinforcing positive behaviors and decision-making.
    • Encouraging kids to help others.
    • Encouraging kids to develop and practice healthy habits.
  • Teachers can help by knowing the signs of depression, taking steps to guide students toward the help they need, and by being a source of support and encouragement inside and outside the classroom.
  • References:

    1. Governor Newsom’s Master Plan for Kids’ Mental Health
    2. Reinert, M, Fritze, D. & Nguyen, T. (October 2022). “The State of Mental Health in America 2023,” Mental Health America, Alexandria VA
    3. Ibid, page 20
    4. Ibid, page 25
    5. Supporting Students with Depression in School
    6. 7 ways schools can help teens suffering with mental health issues
    7. Depression Factsheet (for Schools)
    8. Educators are often the first to notice mental health problems in children and young adults.

    Resources:

    class="entry-image">welcome back

    Depression in Children and Adolescents

    Steering Committee

    March 01, 2024

    In 2022, the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, released a “Master Plan for Kids’ Mental Health” as an answer to the spotlight the global pandemic shone on our nation’s mental health crisis. The master plan addresses the heavy toll being shouldered by the children and adolescents in the state of California:

    • Over 284,000 youth cope with major depression
    • 66% of kids with depression do not receive treatment
    • Suicide rates for kids ages 10-18 increased 20% between 2019-20201
    • Perceived recovery from substance use and mental health issues

    While learning to balance life’s ups and downs is a part of growing up, kids in California are struggling. In “The State of Mental Health in America” report for 2023 from Mental Health America (MHA), California ranks 28th out of 51 (for all the states and the District of Columbia) in access to care for youth experiencing mental illness.2 In this same report, almost 15% of California’s youth ages 12-17 reported suffering from at least one major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year, even higher than the number reported in Governor Newsom’s Master Plan.3

    Depression in children and adolescents is typically diagnosed when they have persistent feelings of sadness that interfere with their ability to function. While depression was long seen as an adult problem, we know now that depression affects many children and adolescents. And while the diagnosis is the same, the symptoms can be very different from those exhibited by adults and vary greatly from child to child.

    Depression in children and adolescents can look like:

    • “Acting out behaviors”
      • This can include defiance and/or disruptiveness.
    • Anger or irritability
    • Difficulty with school
      • This can include changes in grades and/or attendance.
    • Fatigue and sleep difficulties
      • This can include changes in grades and/or attendance.
    • Feelings of worthlessness
    • Restlessness
    • Loss of pleasure from friends, family, or activities they once enjoyed.
    • Mood disruptions
      • This can include mood swings or pervasive sadness that seems out of proportion to the situation or persists and overwhelms the child or teen.
    • Physical complaints
    • Preoccupation with death and/or suicidal thoughts

     

    Depression in young individuals can be caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Some of these factors may include:

    • A family history of depression
    • Trauma or loss
    • Chronic illness
    • Academic or social pressures
    • Bullying
    • Low self-esteem

    Untreated depression can have profound effects on a child or teen's development and functioning. It can interfere with their academic performance, social relationships, and ability to engage in daily activities. It may also increase the risk of substance abuse, self-harm, and suicide. According to MHA’s 2023 report California ranked 46th out of 51 estimating that almost 70% youth with a MDE did not receive treatment.4 Clearly there is still much work to be done in California to ensure that children and adolescents receive the care they need.

    So, how can schools help? The strategies schools can use to help identify and support kids with depression include:

    • Encouraging relationships and connectedness5
      • Providing time and space for kids to establish trust, build relationships, and strengthen friendships can be built into the classroom and schoolwide activities.
      • Helping kids feel connected to school helps can help kids feel valued and cared for leading to better mental health outcomes.
    • Educating teachers and staff
      • Providing opportunities for teachers and other school staff to learn about the signs and symptoms of depression in children and adolescents can help identify kids who are struggling and get them help early.
      • Encouraging positive mental health self-care for staff too.
    • Helping to reduce stigma by normalizing talking about mental health through school campaigns, speakers, and conversations.6
    • Utilizing built in systems, such as the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS), to screen for depression and provide support as needed.
    • Promoting social emotional skill building and competency.
    • Helping ensure a positive and safe school environment.
    • Reviewing school policies to ensure equity and access to services.
    • Communicating with caregivers and encouraging their involvement.
    • In the classroom, teachers can offer support by 7,8
      • Being a source of encouragement to kids who are struggling.
      • Making adjustments and/or accommodations to complete assignments when necessary.
      • Making physical activity a part of everyday routines.
      • Incorporating mindfulness practices.
      • Using trauma-informed practices so that all students feel like they belong.
      • Teaching and reinforcing positive behaviors and decision-making.
      • Encouraging kids to help others.
      • Encouraging kids to develop and practice healthy habits.
    • Teachers can help by knowing the signs of depression, taking steps to guide students toward the help they need, and by being a source of support and encouragement inside and outside the classroom.
    • References:

      1. Governor Newsom’s Master Plan for Kids’ Mental Health
      2. Reinert, M, Fritze, D. & Nguyen, T. (October 2022). “The State of Mental Health in America 2023,” Mental Health America, Alexandria VA
      3. Ibid, page 20
      4. Ibid, page 25
      5. Supporting Students with Depression in School
      6. 7 ways schools can help teens suffering with mental health issues
      7. Depression Factsheet (for Schools)
      8. Educators are often the first to notice mental health problems in children and young adults.

      Resources:

      class="entry-image">welcome back

      Depression in Children and Adolescents

      Steering Committee

      March 01, 2024

      In 2022, the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, released a “Master Plan for Kids’ Mental Health” as an answer to the spotlight the global pandemic shone on our nation’s mental health crisis. The master plan addresses the heavy toll being shouldered by the children and adolescents in the state of California:

      • Over 284,000 youth cope with major depression
      • 66% of kids with depression do not receive treatment
      • Suicide rates for kids ages 10-18 increased 20% between 2019-20201
      • Perceived recovery from substance use and mental health issues

      While learning to balance life’s ups and downs is a part of growing up, kids in California are struggling. In “The State of Mental Health in America” report for 2023 from Mental Health America (MHA), California ranks 28th out of 51 (for all the states and the District of Columbia) in access to care for youth experiencing mental illness.2 In this same report, almost 15% of California’s youth ages 12-17 reported suffering from at least one major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year, even higher than the number reported in Governor Newsom’s Master Plan.3

      Depression in children and adolescents is typically diagnosed when they have persistent feelings of sadness that interfere with their ability to function. While depression was long seen as an adult problem, we know now that depression affects many children and adolescents. And while the diagnosis is the same, the symptoms can be very different from those exhibited by adults and vary greatly from child to child.

      Depression in children and adolescents can look like:

      • “Acting out behaviors”
        • This can include defiance and/or disruptiveness.
      • Anger or irritability
      • Difficulty with school
        • This can include changes in grades and/or attendance.
      • Fatigue and sleep difficulties
        • This can include changes in grades and/or attendance.
      • Feelings of worthlessness
      • Restlessness
      • Loss of pleasure from friends, family, or activities they once enjoyed.
      • Mood disruptions
        • This can include mood swings or pervasive sadness that seems out of proportion to the situation or persists and overwhelms the child or teen.
      • Physical complaints
      • Preoccupation with death and/or suicidal thoughts

       

      Depression in young individuals can be caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Some of these factors may include:

      • A family history of depression
      • Trauma or loss
      • Chronic illness
      • Academic or social pressures
      • Bullying
      • Low self-esteem

      Untreated depression can have profound effects on a child or teen's development and functioning. It can interfere with their academic performance, social relationships, and ability to engage in daily activities. It may also increase the risk of substance abuse, self-harm, and suicide. According to MHA’s 2023 report California ranked 46th out of 51 estimating that almost 70% youth with a MDE did not receive treatment.4 Clearly there is still much work to be done in California to ensure that children and adolescents receive the care they need.

      So, how can schools help? The strategies schools can use to help identify and support kids with depression include:

      • Encouraging relationships and connectedness5
        • Providing time and space for kids to establish trust, build relationships, and strengthen friendships can be built into the classroom and schoolwide activities.
        • Helping kids feel connected to school helps can help kids feel valued and cared for leading to better mental health outcomes.
      • Educating teachers and staff
        • Providing opportunities for teachers and other school staff to learn about the signs and symptoms of depression in children and adolescents can help identify kids who are struggling and get them help early.
        • Encouraging positive mental health self-care for staff too.
      • Helping to reduce stigma by normalizing talking about mental health through school campaigns, speakers, and conversations.6
      • Utilizing built in systems, such as the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS), to screen for depression and provide support as needed.
      • Promoting social emotional skill building and competency.
      • Helping ensure a positive and safe school environment.
      • Reviewing school policies to ensure equity and access to services.
      • Communicating with caregivers and encouraging their involvement.
      • In the classroom, teachers can offer support by 7,8
        • Being a source of encouragement to kids who are struggling.
        • Making adjustments and/or accommodations to complete assignments when necessary.
        • Making physical activity a part of everyday routines.
        • Incorporating mindfulness practices.
        • Using trauma-informed practices so that all students feel like they belong.
        • Teaching and reinforcing positive behaviors and decision-making.
        • Encouraging kids to help others.
        • Encouraging kids to develop and practice healthy habits.
      • Teachers can help by knowing the signs of depression, taking steps to guide students toward the help they need, and by being a source of support and encouragement inside and outside the classroom.
      • References:

        1. Governor Newsom’s Master Plan for Kids’ Mental Health
        2. Reinert, M, Fritze, D. & Nguyen, T. (October 2022). “The State of Mental Health in America 2023,” Mental Health America, Alexandria VA
        3. Ibid, page 20
        4. Ibid, page 25
        5. Supporting Students with Depression in School
        6. 7 ways schools can help teens suffering with mental health issues
        7. Depression Factsheet (for Schools)
        8. Educators are often the first to notice mental health problems in children and young adults.

        Resources:

        class="entry-image">welcome back

        Depression in Children and Adolescents

        Steering Committee

        March 01, 2024

        In 2022, the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, released a “Master Plan for Kids’ Mental Health” as an answer to the spotlight the global pandemic shone on our nation’s mental health crisis. The master plan addresses the heavy toll being shouldered by the children and adolescents in the state of California:

        • Over 284,000 youth cope with major depression
        • 66% of kids with depression do not receive treatment
        • Suicide rates for kids ages 10-18 increased 20% between 2019-20201
        • Perceived recovery from substance use and mental health issues

        While learning to balance life’s ups and downs is a part of growing up, kids in California are struggling. In “The State of Mental Health in America” report for 2023 from Mental Health America (MHA), California ranks 28th out of 51 (for all the states and the District of Columbia) in access to care for youth experiencing mental illness.2 In this same report, almost 15% of California’s youth ages 12-17 reported suffering from at least one major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year, even higher than the number reported in Governor Newsom’s Master Plan.3

        Depression in children and adolescents is typically diagnosed when they have persistent feelings of sadness that interfere with their ability to function. While depression was long seen as an adult problem, we know now that depression affects many children and adolescents. And while the diagnosis is the same, the symptoms can be very different from those exhibited by adults and vary greatly from child to child.

        Depression in children and adolescents can look like:

        • “Acting out behaviors”
          • This can include defiance and/or disruptiveness.
        • Anger or irritability
        • Difficulty with school
          • This can include changes in grades and/or attendance.
        • Fatigue and sleep difficulties
          • This can include changes in grades and/or attendance.
        • Feelings of worthlessness
        • Restlessness
        • Loss of pleasure from friends, family, or activities they once enjoyed.
        • Mood disruptions
          • This can include mood swings or pervasive sadness that seems out of proportion to the situation or persists and overwhelms the child or teen.
        • Physical complaints
        • Preoccupation with death and/or suicidal thoughts

         

        Depression in young individuals can be caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Some of these factors may include:

        • A family history of depression
        • Trauma or loss
        • Chronic illness
        • Academic or social pressures
        • Bullying
        • Low self-esteem

        Untreated depression can have profound effects on a child or teen's development and functioning. It can interfere with their academic performance, social relationships, and ability to engage in daily activities. It may also increase the risk of substance abuse, self-harm, and suicide. According to MHA’s 2023 report California ranked 46th out of 51 estimating that almost 70% youth with a MDE did not receive treatment.4 Clearly there is still much work to be done in California to ensure that children and adolescents receive the care they need.

        So, how can schools help? The strategies schools can use to help identify and support kids with depression include: