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Depression in Our Age

Mental health has quite a few unhealthy taboos, especially for adolescents. One might hear “She’s just doing it for attention” or “He’s just sad because he doesn’t have a girlfriend” in the halls of any old high school, or even among adults speaking ignorantly through their aged perceptions of childhood depression. In the modern day, we understand conditions like depression better than ever. This, however, does not make the experience any more pleasant for the students going through it.

High school is a tumultuous place with a penchant for emotional stress. Between increasing workloads, shifting friend groups, and many extracurricular activities, students find themselves often feeling overburdened.

Mrs. Margaret Cumbie, a school Social Worker, speaks to affected students often. She states that for students with depression, when it is more prevalent in their mind, it can consume them. They will have difficulty concentrating on their work, directly affecting their grades.

When asked if she thought we had a sufficient support system in our school, she states: “I really do. In particular, Thornton has four social workers here, that do primarily mental health. A lot of people are affected by depression who wouldn’t necessarily have a diagnosis. I think that (destigmatization of mental health and promoting our help options) is all-inclusive. I think it’s about finding supports but also helping to destigmatize what mental health looks like and how it affects people.”

Cumbie makes an analogy of how, if you came in with a broken foot, no one would say, “I can’t believe you can’t walk up those stairs”, but they would do what they can to help you get up those stairs. If you had a class upstairs in the front of the main building, you don’t get out of having to do class, but we would find ways of helping you get there on time. Similarly, with depression, you still need to be able to do your work.

From the student’s perspective, the battle with depression is draining. “During the peak of my depression, I cared far less about my grades and school as a whole. My grades did go down, mostly because I didn’t have the motivation to do some of the work. I definitely think it is a disadvantage to be depressed during school. It makes you feel like you just don’t have enough energy to get through school every day,” said senior David Bourque.

“I personally didn’t seek help within the school system, I went through my doctor to find a counselor,” said Bourque.

Senior Maxwell Vickery can relate. He said, “When you fall into a depressive episode school is the last thing on your mind, it just adds more stress and makes what you’re coping with even more difficult to handle. You just don’t care about school as much. You don’t end up doing your homework, you don’t study, you don’t try. Which can cause everything to slip.”

As time goes, we move forward in our perceptions of mental health. Hopefully, we can progress to a point where affected students can seek help without any fear of social stigma or repercussions.

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