Kidsdata.org offers a measure of “depression-related feelings,” which refers to student reports of whether, in the past 12 months, they felt so sad
or hopeless every day for two weeks or more that they stopped doing some
usual activities. This is one indicator of depression, though it is not a measure of clinical depression.
In addition, kidsdata.org provides the number and rate of hospitalizations for mental health issues per 1,000 children and youth ages 5-19, by age group.
The data on depression-related feelings come from the California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS) through a partnership with WestEd, which developed and administers the CHKS, and the California Department of Education. Data are available by grade level (7th, 9th, and 11th, and non-traditional students); gender and grade level; race/ethnicity; and level of connectedness to school. School connectedness
is a summary measure that includes student reports of the following
elements: being treated fairly, feeling close to people, feeling happy,
feeling part of school, and feeling safe at school.
"Non-traditional" students are those enrolled in Community Day Schools or Continuation Education. According to EdSource, nearly 10% of public school students in California are enrolled in these programs.
Emotional health includes self-confidence, the ability to form and maintain caring relationships, coping skills, optimism, and the ability to make positive choices. Sound emotional health, which is more than the absence of mental disorders, is critical to equipping young people for the challenges of growing up and living as healthy adults (1).
Depression is one of the most common emotional health problems among teens, estimated to affect 15-20% of youth under 18 in the U.S. (2). In 2011, almost 30% of high school students nationwide reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness – one indicator of depression (3). Youth diagnosed with depression often experience significant impairment in peer, family, school, and physical functioning (2, 4). Depressed teens also have higher rates of other emotional and behavioral health problems, such as anxiety, drug use, aggressiveness, and suicidal behavior; and they are more likely to experience depression and other psychological problems as adults (2, 4). In addition, rates of serious chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, are higher among individuals with depressive symptoms (5). Depression can be especially difficult to detect in children, as it can manifest differently in young people than in adults (4).
Sources for this narrative:
- American Psychological Association. (2012). Emotional health. Retrieved from: http://www.apa.org/topics/emotion/index.aspx
- Jaycox, L. H., et al. (2009). Impact of teen depression on academic, social, and physical functioning. Pediatrics, 124(4), e569-e605. Retrieved from: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/124/4/e596.full.pdf+html?sid=a7050435-b8ce-45e7-a73e-8cdd78d4ed3e
- Child Trends Data Bank. (2012). Adolescents who feel sad or hopeless. Retrieved from: http://www.childtrendsdatabank.org/?q=node/126
- Brent, D. A., & Birmaher, B. (2002). Adolescent depression. New England Journal of Medicine, 347, 667-671.
- Katon, W. J. (2003). Clinical and health services relationships between major depression, depressive symptoms, and general medical illness. Biological Psychiatry, 54(3), 216-226.
Many primary care providers do not routinely screen youth for mental
health issues, and teachers often lack the training or the time to
identify emotional/mental health issues and refer students for
intervention (1, 5). According to research and subject experts, policy options that could
promote emotional health and prevent depression
- Supporting efforts in schools to provide a positive, supportive environment and to offer comprehensive K-12
education for social-emotional development, including interpersonal
communication, goal setting, anger management, and advocacy skills, as
supported by the National Association of State Boards of Education and
the California Education Code (9, 10, 11)
- Promoting efforts in communities to provide youth
with positive experiences, relationships, and opportunities, such as quality
after-school programs, which can help youth develop skills to make
healthy choices and become caring, responsible adults (8)
- Ensuring adequate funding and training for a range of school
professionals to recognize the signs of depression, self-injury, and
suicidal ideation, and to connect students with appropriate services (2,
3, 5, 6), including specific training for meeting the needs of gay,
lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth (3, 4)
- Structuring public health systems and insurance reimbursement
policies to require depression screening and encourage regular
administration of psychosocial exams to youth (1, 2, 7)
For more policy ideas and information on this topic, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section, or visit the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Also see the Policy Implications sections in the following kidsdata.org topics: School Safety, Bullying/Harassment at School, School Connectedness, Pupil Support Service Personnel, Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drugs, Child Abuse, and Foster Care.
Sources for this narrative:
- TeenScreen National Center for Mental Health Checkups at
Columbia University. (2009). Adolescent mental health checkups: Recommendations
to realizations. Retrieved from: http://www.teenscreen.org/images/stories/PDF/Event%20Report.pdf
- TeenScreen National Center for Mental Health Checkups at Columbia University. (n.d.). Youth suicide and prevention. Retrieved from: http://www.teenscreen.org/images/stories/PDF/YouthSuicideandPrevention.pdf
- Haas, A. P., et al. (2010). Suicide and suicide risk in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender populations: Review and recommendations.
Journal of Homosexuality, 58(1), 10-51. Retrieved from: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00918369.2011.534038
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender health: Youth. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/lgbthealth/youth.htm
- Suicide Prevention Resource Center. (2010). The role of teachers in preventing suicide. Retrieved from: http://www.sprc.org/featured_resources/customized/teachers.asp#role
- Mann, J. J., et al. (2005). Suicide prevention strategies: A systemic review. JAMA, 294(16), 2064-2074. Retrieved from: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=201761
- Goldenring, J. M., & Rosen, D. S. (2004). Getting into adolescent heads: An essential update. Contemporary Pediatrics, 21(1), 76. Retrieved from: http://www.aap.org/pubserv/PSVpreview/pages/Files/HEADSS.pdf
- Search Institute. (n.d.) Developmental Assets Research. Retrieved from: http://www.search-institute.org/research/assets
- California Education Code Section 51890. Retrieved from: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=edc&group=51001-52000&file=51890-51891
- National Association of State Boards of Education. (2010). National guidelines: Health, mental health and safety guidelines for schools. Retrieved from: http://www.nationalguidelines.org/guideline.cfm?guideNum=2-07
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2009). School connectedness: Strategies for increasing protective factors among youth. Retrieved from: http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/adolescenthealth/pdf/connectedness.pdf
In California, about 28% of 7th graders, 31% of 9th graders, and 32% of 11th graders reported that, in the past 12 months, they had been so sad or hopeless every day for at least two weeks that they stopped doing some usual activities, according to 2008-10 data. Non-traditional students (i.e., those enrolled in Community Day Schools or Continuation Education) had the highest percentages reporting depression-related feelings in the past year: 37% in 2008-10.
As in previous years, greater percentages of females in 7th, 9th, and 11th grades reported depression-related feelings than their male peers in 2008-10. In addition, students who reported feeling less connected to their schools more often reported depression-related feelings. Among racial/ethnic groups, the percentage reporting depression-related
feelings ranged from 27% to 34% in 2008-10, with the highest percentages among multiethnic and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander students.
In 2011, there were 11,687 hospitalizations for mental health issues among children ages 5-14 in California (a rate of 1.2 per 1,000), and 23,514 among youth ages 15-19 (4.2 per 1,000). The statewide rate of hospitalizations increased by 33% among children ages 5-14 and by 27% among ages 15-19 between 2007 and 2011. Among counties with available data in 2011, the rate of hospitalizations due to mental health issues ranged from 0.5 to 3.4 per 1,000 children ages 5-14, and from 2.7 to 10.9 per 1,000 teens ages 15-19.