Depression Is More Than Just Sadness | WHS Mental Health Series



Anxiety-based school refusal affects 2 to 5 percent of school-age children. Some schools are employing new strategies to help these students overcome their sympto

Samantha Vega-Torres, Senior Writer

It is not uncommon to feel under the weather or to fall into a depressive-like state for a short period of time, but what about when that feeling takes a lot longer to go away? Mental Health America explained “Teens need adult guidance more than ever to understand all the emotional and physical changes they are experiencing. When teens’ moods disrupt their ability to function on a day-to-day basis, it may indicate a serious emotional or mental disorder that needs attention — adolescent depression. Parents or caregivers must take action”. Students cannot rely on themselves when dealing with the stressors of their grade. What do the caregivers consider to be the year with the highest rate of depression among high school students? Feeley kept it simple by admitting that she “[does] not know the statistics for each grade, I will say I think each year has different challenges, different stressors, and how each student handles these vary.  I am happy we are focusing on Social Emotional Learning and Advisory because I think these approaches will help students in managing their emotions, stress, and feeling like they are connected here and can seek and receive support!”, which Ms. Malone agreed with. She stated that you “Can’t necessarily put a year on it. I think all students are different”, but did declare that “A lot of time we see mental illness manifest itself when kids are in high school in general, due to symptoms of mental illness that start to manifest in high school. Someone might not experience those symptoms themselves until they are in high school..Different profile kids present differently different years”. Of course there is a darker demon that results from the depths of depression.

Suicide. It is not a pretty subject, but it is a very important topic that should be well discussed. The loss of a student and peer is no easy trial, but it is important to be prepared. In fact, the school has a special protocol put in place if such a tragedy occurred. According to Mrs. Feeley, the school has a crisis team made up of nurses, guidance counselors, SACs, and associate principals and they “Meet to discuss a plan of how to support students and staff”, but they can also hire specialists. These specialists “Belong to a group we call STAR, when something impacts everyone we use the STAR..that’s their specialty, that’s what they do, they support us” says Feeley. The Netflix show, 13 Reasons Why was the topic of conversation in regards to a school processing the death of a student by suicide. When the show first came out, the high school issued out a letter, that Feeley clarifies came from the Superintendent and addresses the triggering and disturbing scenes and overall storyline of the show. Ms. Feeley disliked the show, in fact, it disturbed her. Malone had a similar response by explaining “It’s sort of the norm that schools and counselors don’t memorialize a suicide. There’s many reasons behind that. Part of it is to not glorify suicide. I need to see [13 Reasons Why] before I can have an opinion on it. I started to watch it–I have not watched all of it..There’s a part of me that is glad that we are talking about this. It’s important. I struggle with the idea of blaming people, but I think it is important to understand how their actions impact we treat people..I do like [how] it depicts teenagers talking about this without having adults around. When Clay goes to [Bryce’s] house and confronts him about assaulting [Jessica]–I enjoy seeing the different perspectives on a situation. I find those parts of the show to be very interesting”.

Although this show has varying opinions, it is important to be able to discuss such difficult topics. Who better to have these conversations with, than adults you can trust? My final question for the SACs was whether or not they felt students were comfortable meeting with them. Malone responded with “I assume they feel comfortable if they request to see me. I would not know that unless someone shared that with me. Shame on me if I say everyone is comfortable to see me.” While Mrs. Feeley replied by sharing “ I sincerely hope so, though I understand for some students it’s new and they may not, or they receive supports outside, but I have an open door policy and over the four years I look forward to meeting more of the class”. If you are a student that feels as though they are dealing with a lot and just need somewhere to get it off your chest, stop by your house office to speak with Ms. Snider (freshman house), Ms. Malone (sophomore house), Ms. Gonzales (junior house), or Mrs. Feeley (senior house).