FOR RELEASE May 8, 2013
Childhood Depression Awareness Day: What You Can Do to Foster Hope
Delaware Ohio: When someone mentions “depression,” it may bring up an image of an adult, struggling to deal with the stress of a job, family and finances. While depression does occur in the adult population, there is another population that often gets overlooked: Youth. This is why National Childhood Depression Awareness Day (May 8, 2013) is a great opportunity to check in with the little ones in our lives.
In today’s society there are many stressors children encounter that can lead to depression. They are constantly bombarded with pressure from family, friends, school, the media and even themselves. The pressure to be what everyone wants them to be can be overwhelming. It can be hard to find hope for a better future. However, when a child is able to find something to be hopeful for it can become a valuable coping skill that helps prevent depression. The Suicide Prevention Program at HelpLine asked teachers and counselors from Delaware and Morrow County to help answer the question: “What gives your students hope for a brighter future?” They received answers from over 100 students of all ages and it looks like our youth has something to look forward to.
The youth surveyed were Kindergarten to 12th graders from a broad range of backgrounds, but they all had their generation in common, which made it no surprise to hear just how similar their responses were. The responses were all incredibly inspiring and those from teenagers were mostly about family, friends, and loved ones; all of the things that money cannot buy. Quite a few of them also listed concepts which gave them hope, such as happiness, kindness, love, faith, and miracles. When we went back to study individual responses, we were touched by the heartfelt words, such as what one Middle School student wrote, “The one thing that gives me hope, is people never give up on me. They believe in me, when I gave up, they kept me going. Now I know to never give up, and do what I believe in.” Elementary aged youth also gave many inspiring reasons for hope; everything from “living a long happy life” to someday having “a bed made out of Twinkies.” Regardless of the varying answers, many of today’s youth have their version of a happy future. However, when youth struggle to find meaning and a better tomorrow, adults have can have a tremendous impact by fostering and modeling hope.
Teachers, parents, counselors, older siblings, and any adult can really help prevent childhood depression by creating an environment of hope. First, modeling an optimistic outlook on life can teach the youth we care about that difficult situations do not last forever and most have a glimmer of positivity. Second, empowering them to make positive choices, even in difficult situations, can lead to a sense of control over their future. This can be as simple as giving them options on everyday tasks, like choosing what to wear, and more importantly on challenging situations, such as ways to respond to bullies. Childhood is a wonderful time for many where the challenges help to build resiliency and maturity. However, childhood depression is real and adults can help to prevent it by creating brighter opportunities for them tomorrow, even if they don’t seem clear today. If you know a child who may be struggling with childhood depression or thoughts of suicide, call 211 or the HelpLine’s 24/7 crisis support hotline at 800-684-2324.