Depression in youth has been a rising issue in the United States for the past two decades. High School aged students have seen the largest jump in the study, whether from academic stress, familial pressure, or simply unbalanced hormones, depression puts teenagers at a very high risk of suicide, and it can affect the way their entire life turns out. Depressed teens are more likely to have trouble at school and in jobs, and to struggle with relationships. They usually have a smaller social circle and take advantage of fewer career and educational opportunities. While many people still argue the stigma against mental illness, and claim that the person is simply ‘sad’, there is still scientific proof that mental illness and depression are real, they are not just in your head.
I interviewed Hadley Britt, a senior at CEHS, about her experience and observations of mental illness. Hadley herself has been diagnosed with clinical depression as well as Seasonal Affective Disorder, a form of depression that worsens the feeling of depression during late fall and winter months as a result of limited sunlight. Hadley's experiences with depression are very similar to that of many as young adults who have this mental disorder, whether diagnosed or not. One of the questions I asked Hadley was what she thought the social pressures were that surrounded students and how she thought that could affect the development of depression.
“Well, there's the constant fear that people need to succeed and in order to do that they have to dress a certain way, weigh a certain amount, play a certain sport, be on a specific team, in order to make those specific friends. There’s also still the idealized idea of the ‘popular clique’ which has been written about in every teen book and showed in every movie, forever, and people really struggle to hit that point because that's the only way they think they can be happy or be remembered in high school.”
I asked a group of senior boys, Tucker Wanzer, Stephen Bennett, and Tim Corsello the same questions that I asked Hadley and received many of the same answers, “Everyone has to be in a sport. It’s one thing to get good grades but it’s another thing to have a social life, have friends, do extracurriculars. Everyone has to be doing something and get those good grades at the same time” Said Tucker Wanzer
“Kids compare grades at CEHS, we get tests back and everyone is leaning around asking “what’d you get? What’d you get?” everyone feels competitive within their own small group. I think we’re the only school that does that.” Tim Corsello chimed in.
While CEHS might be independent when it comes to the comparison of grades the fear of getting bad grades and fitting in are everywhere. Every school has it’s own special issues, but they all have similarities when it comes to the pressure to succeed. In a time when everyone is expected to go to college and not everyone can afford it people get left behind, the stress of that thought can cause many people to become stressed and depressed.
I asked all of the interviewees what they thought about depression vs. developement and hormones. They all answered the same way, while there are obvious mood swings associated with growing up and hormones, puberty and stress, youths can get depressed. There’s a serious difference between getting stressed about a test or having a bad month or year. While students who do suffer from depression can clearly understand this, many times adults cannot. Young adults all over the world are refused treatment and help by family members and friends simply because of the negative stigma about youth depression, the idea that they are too young to have these issues and simply must be dealing with developmental hormones. That they’re just “sad”.
Superintendent's Office
(207) 799-2217
Howard Colter, Interim Superintendent
Pond Cove Elementary School
(207) 799-7339
Kelly Hasson, Principal
Cape Elizabeth Middle School
(207) 799-8176
Mike Tracy, Principal
Cape Elizabeth High School
(207) 799-3309
Jeff Shedd, Principal
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