Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bucking the trend on teenage depression... or, why we dance for prevention

Government data released this week reveals that pre-teen and teenage girls suffer from depression at a rate nearly three times that of boys their age. Also, according to the figures released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), as girls mature from 12 to 15 years of age, the percentage who experience depression triples (to nearly one in six).

A depressive episode was defined in the 2008 to 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health as a period of two weeks or longer during which teens experienced a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure, along with other changes in day-to-day function, such as loss of sleep or appetite, or changes in concentration.

SAMSHA Administrator Pamela Hyde stressed the importance of giving teenage girls assistance with coping skills and social support systems to help avoid the onset of depression. Efforts to provide this support she called a “sound investment in girls’ health and well-being and in our nation’s future.”

Through efforts like Communities That Care, our community is able to provide and strengthen the support systems necessary to help our kids develop into healthy adults. Research has proven that preventing adolescent depression and other problems is more effective when it involves the entire social environment.

Here in our community, there are many efforts to reduce the prevalence of depression in our youth.  Parents can sign up for Guiding Good Choices (GGC), which has been shown to reduce depressive symptoms in children of participants (children of GGC participants had 38% lower rates of self-harm and 28% fewer feelings of worthlessness). The Life Skills Training curriculum provided by some of the local middle schools includes lessons on coping skills, and bullying prevention efforts can help relieve some of the pressures facing adolescent girls. Many youth-serving agencies have trained their staff through Gatekeeper Training, and Five Town Communities That Care offers suicide prevention and awareness sessions that include information on depression and warning signs of suicide to any groups in the community who request them.

The Maine Suicide Prevention Program has information on depression and links to many resources.  Your local medical professionals (family doctors and emergency services personnel) have resource directories, and the Maine Crisis Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day (1-888-568-1112).

A community-wide approach to promoting healthy youth focuses on both influencing values, practices and policies that promote a safe and healthy community; and changing the conditions that put children at risk for adolescent health and behavior problems. The ways to do this are varied and vast.  Last week, to get the message across, we danced. Our community works together, learns together, and celebrates success together....

We know that it's far easier to build a healthy child than to repair a broken adult.

Five Town CTC Dance Walk: coping skills and social support system at work!
WE are CTC!

Stay connected to your kids, listen... and don't forget to have fun together!
You can't start too early getting your kids involved with a supportive community!

It takes a village... to get a groove on!

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