Children and youth can experience depression from a young age, which can interfere with learning.

Mental health challenges and disorders have many different signs and symptoms and can look different in different people. Children and youth can experience depression differently than adults. It is important for adults to be aware of the signs and symptoms of mental health problems in young people and take action. Schools and parents can work together to support children and youth.

What is depression?

Major depression affects up to 10 per cent of youth and often results in severe short-and long-term health problems.

Depression is a type of mental illness called a mood disorder. Mood disorders affect the way a person feels, which also affects the way they think, act and learn. Recognizing depression in young people can be more difficult than recognizing depression in adults because young people experience so many changes.

Depression is more than just the blues. It is a persistent feeling of despair. Depression has no single cause, but can be influenced by family history and genetics, life events or stress, hormone changes and certain illnesses or medications.

What role can schools play in addressing a student's depression?

The role of the school is to ensure that all students, including children with mental health issues, have equitable access to learning opportunities, and to help them succeed educationally to the best of their abilities.

Schools can create supportive and caring environments to promote positive mental health. School staff can also be aware of the signs and symptoms of depression and link students and families to health professionals and resources. It can help to know more about what to expect from your child’s school.

What role can parents play in helping to manage their child's depression?

Parents can play a vital role in the education of their children by working in partnership with professionals to develop a plan that maximizes their child’s ability to succeed at school.

Parents are advised to follow these guidelines for managing their child’s mental health in a school setting: keep in regular contact with your child’s school, be proactive about any concerns and be aware of everything in your child’s school file.

The Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre also has some good resources on how parents and families can pull together to help a child with depression or mental health issues, including family toolkits and videos available in multiple languages. The Government of B.C. also offers a resource guide for dealing with depression.