Teenager moodiness seems normal to most parents, but is it really just mood swings?
Adults often gloss over the fact that an individual is suffering from depression and leave the situation overlooked and untreated. At CHS, many students get frustrated because they believe that school has made it impossible to prioritize mental health because of the heavy workload they receive. Some students call for a mental health day, where they can take a break from cramming information and just relax.
“People should not overlook this situation because it could prevent someone who really needs help from getting better,” sophomore Mei Mei Zuo said.
According to a 2015 study by Psychological Medicine, overall Americans experienced a one percent increase in depression, while teenage Americans ages 12 to 17 experienced a four percent increase. Depression that goes untreated is the number one risk factor for suicidal tendencies.
Often, people with depression fail to receive the treatment they need because they are not open about it. Many people who suffer from depression do not realize that they have a real illness that can be treated, and are scared that others will judge or think of them differently.
“Erasing the stigma as best as we can is how we can get more accurate reflections of what someone is experiencing and what they need to best support them,” guidance counselor Makeyda Soriano said.
The more depression is talked about, the easier it is to be open about it. A student should never feel that nothing can be done to help them. When the topic of mental health is talked about often, even starting at a young age, the belief that there is nothing that can be done or that the individual is “messed up” will subside.
“Students and teachers need to be talking about [depression] like it’s a normal thing,” Honors Biology teacher Victoria Manistre said.
When an anonymous CHS sophomore first noticed signs of depression in themselves, they thought it was all in their head and the only person to blame was themselves. After becoming aware of what depression really was, however, they felt that there was something they needed to do in order to get help, even though it seemed very difficult to talk about and to do.
“It was only a few years later, when I met a friend who created a safe space during the time that things were getting really bad for me,” Jane* said. “She encouraged and allowed me to reach out in order to find the resources I needed in order to get better.”
The most helpful thing that a teacher can do for his or her students is to make his or her classroom a comfortable and safe place for students.
“It’s very important that an individual has someone to talk to about what they have been feeling, otherwise no one would be able to help and treat him or her,” Manistre said.
There are multiple strategies for students struggling with depression to do in order to help cope, including speaking to a trusted adult, staying healthy, mentally, physically and spiritually, and continuing to do what makes one happy.
“It is important for you to have a daily routine in order to prevent depression from taking over your life, and preventing you from doing normal activities,” Zuo said.
Not getting enough sleep, psychological trauma, and high-pressure situations are also causes for depression. This applies to CHS, as students and staff members would agree that students endure high pressure to get the best grades and to get into the top schools, which can be harmful to students’ mental health.
It is important to pay attention to the signs of depression. If a student suddenly loses interest in things that used to matter to them and withdraws from school, friends or sports, it could be a warning of depression. If you have concerns about yourself or someone else, talk to a trusted adult, such as your own parent or guardian, teacher or a school counselor.
“As a friend it is your job to advocate for someone who is struggling with depression,” Zuo said. “It can’t be all on the victim to carry his or her burden. They need to be able to share it.”
*name changed for the anonymity of the source