Dr. Jason Washburn responds to a question from GPS "Recognizing the High School Blues"
On April 16, 2015 at Glenbard South, Dr. Jason Washburn spoke on “Depression: Recognizing the High School Blues”. Discussion focused on what parents and schools can do to help prevent teens from developing depression, as well as the treatment options for teens when depression is identified.
Question via Facebook:
Fabulous seminar! Any ideas on how to help our students cope once diagnosed? Distress tolerance? 4-square breathing? Practical tips?
Dr. Washburn's reply:
Once a student is diagnosed with depression, it is critical to get treatment. A good licensed psychotherapist (psychologist, clinical social worker, licensed clinical professional counselor) trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Interpersonal Therapy for Adolescents is a great place to start. A good psychotherapist will also know when to refer for a medication evaluation. The therapist will be able to identify skills that can be helpful for students to cope with their symptoms.
In the classroom, I recommend the following that teachers can do to help out:
1. Reinforce skills being learned in therapy, including deep breathing, problem-solving skills, mindfulness, etc…
2. Provide breaks when tearful or overly distracted, as long as the breaks are not being taken advantage of
3. Give encouraging but direct/honest their performance in class, (social and behavioral, as well as academic).
4. Support executive functioning as best as possible, such as helping the student to set appropriate goals, to organize and plan to accomplish those goals, and to monitor performance
5. Look for opportunities to keep the student engaged social during the school; don’t make it easy to isolate!
6. Check in on how he/she is feeling, and monitor suicidal thoughts.
7. Community with parents, such as through a home-note system.
See also: http://www.schoolbehavior.com/Files/tips_mood.pdf