What influence do teachers have on teenagers with depression?

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Answered by: Ramon Antonio, An Expert in the Ages and Phases Category
With the natural hormonal shifts, typical of adolescents and the developmental road to self-discovery common during teenage years, difficulty could arise for a teacher in determining if a student’s behavioral changes are part of his or her coming into their own or are cautionary red flags of major depressive disorder. Depression is not uncommon for teenagers. Young adults face pressures from family and teachers to prepare for their release from childhood into adulthood, a career or college that is right around the corner. Also, there is pressure to adapt to developing, changing and growing relationships with peers and romantic interests. These are just a few of the causes of depression in a teenager. Only the teenagers with depression will know how deep it runs and only the child must face the internal struggles that come with growing up.

Teachers do not replace parents; their responsibility for the teenager has limits defined by having only an allotment of days within a year. However, when a child is in attendance, a teacher may be able to address individual issues or be a support that the teenager is not able to get anywhere else.

As an illustration, let’s say it is the second semester of a school year. A teacher notices that over the course of several days, a particular student is starting to become withdrawn and isolated. The teacher does not approach the student immediately but rather allows for extended observation. The quiet surveillance reveals moments in which the student makes self-deprecating comments within bouts of unrestrained irritability, coupled with an uncharacteristic noncompliance to classroom rules.

Unbeknownst to the teenager who is likely not knowledgeable about depression as a real illness, a teacher lacking sufficient understanding of depression and without an official assessment, both the teacher and student could miss that the decline in the student’s scholastic performance and conduct is due to the budding of clinical depression.

Just like some employers require their staff to receive CPR or First Aid training, in many cases, teachers are the first point of contact that brings a young learner to the acceptance and awareness that there is a problem which needs treatment. With just an initial conversation with the teacher and demonstrative contribution to dialogue by the student, the adolescent can begin a road to wellness. Only by knowing how to recognize the signs in teenagers with depression can a teacher help the students take the next steps toward having healthy emotional and mental hygiene.

A teacher must serve as a bridge between two distinct points regarding the student’s well-being. One point is the extreme sadness and the behavioral, social, and academic issues that surround it; the second is the point of feeling better. A student may not go to the school counselor on their own. A teacher that has knowledge of major depressive disorder symptoms can be helpful in possibly sighting a problem with clinical depression before parents or even the student. With the appropriate involvement from the teacher, the young learner could soon find him or herself immersed in an encouraging human ecological system which includes supportive family, school faculty and helpful mental health professionals.

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