The Weller Health Education Center is presenting the Adolescent Depression Awareness Program (ADAP) in the Midd-West School District. ADAP is an evidence-based curriculum designed to educate high school students, their teachers and parents about adolescent depression so that more teens suffering with depression get the treatment they need.
The series begins with a depression awareness program for parents on Thursday, March 22 at 7:00 p.m. in the Midd-West High School auditorium. The Weller Center will host this free workshop where parents explore the signs and symptoms of teenage depression and discuss resources in the community that can help families address this serious issue. Dr. Tawnya Meadows of Geisinger Health System’s Division of Psychiatry will lead the discussion.
“Depression can manifest itself in different ways, depending on the child, from sadness to hostility to withdrawal,” Dr. Meadows said. “It is important parents are able to recognize these warning signs so they can access the resources that are out there to help them. These are all things that we will talk about at the March 22 workshop.”
On March 23, more than 200 teachers will take part in an in-service led by the Weller Center on adolescent depression. On March 26, 27 and 28, ninth grade students from Midd-West High School will participate in a three-session student program. During the program, students will learn that depression is a treatable medical illness. The program message is hopeful, emphasizing the importance of treatment and seeking help. The presentations feature lecture and discussion, DVD clips and interactive group activities designed to teach students about this illness as well as how, when and where to seek help for themselves or a friend.
Major depression is the leading undiagnosed illness among teens, affecting five percent of American teenagers. Of these, only 30 percent will receive any intervention or treatment. The effects of teen depression are far reaching. Teens suffering with depression are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, experience early pregnancy and struggle academically. The stigma of mental illness often keeps teens from reaching out for help.
Suicide, the most serious risk of depression, is the third leading cause of death among high school students. It is critical that students, parents and teachers understand the link between depression and suicide, learn to identify symptoms of depression and recognize it as a treatable illness.
ADAP was developed in 1999 by Dr. Karen Swartz, Clinical Programs Director at the Johns Hopkins Mood Disorders Center, in response to three student suicides in the Baltimore area. Since its inception, more than 20,000 students have participated in the program. Health educators from the Weller Center have been specially trained to deliver the program. Pre- and post-program tests associated with the curriculum show that students’ knowledge about depression (including their understanding of how, when and where to seek help for themselves or a friend) triples from pre- to post-test. The programs at Midd-West are funded through a grant from Capital BlueCross.