The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Depression & youth

Mental illnesses do affect schoolchildren. Here's what to look for and how to get help.
Web only: "More warning signs" and "Resources for help"

Parents are packing lunches again and sending their backpack-laden kids back to school. They wonder if their child will make friends. They wonder if their child will be treated kindly and act the same to others. And after a decade’s barrage of violence at schools, they wonder, even, if their child will be safe.

Not as many, most likely, wonder if their child will be diagnosed with depression or a related mental illness. But research shows that two teens in every classroom of 24 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year, and children as young as preschoolers show signs.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
“BP Me” by Kareem, age 13, from The Storm in my Brain: Kids and Mood Disorders, 2003.
The signs at any age can be difficult to spot. Then finding a diagnosis and getting the right treatment—not to mention dealing with the stigma—can seem insurmountable. With a collection of resources ranging from faith communities and teachers to counselors and doctors, though, families can intervene before a child harms himself or others. Together they can begin to fight the illness.

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February issue


Embracing diversity