Quinta-feira, 18/10/2018 | : : UTC-4
The Reflection

Depression and anxiety affects academic performance

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Depression and anxiety control the way students focus and participate in their classes, as well for how they are able to study. Photo by Courtney Pedersen.

“We are seeing more and more students diagnosed with depression and anxiety, but I think it is due to more research happening on the topic and more doctors identifying what symptoms are,” said Gull Lake counselor Diana Kwiatkowski.

Students’ academic performance is heavily influenced by the moods and mental distractions students deal with. ADD and ADHD are often discussed regarding student achievement, but depression and anxiety also factor in.

According to TIME Magazine, depression and anxiety rates in adolescents have steadily risen since 2012, when the stability from the years before crumbled. Counselors at Gull Lake High School agreed there is a recent rise in number of depressed teens.

As the rate of adolescent depression grows, schools focus more on making teens feel safe enough to share their troubles, which GLHS demonstrates.

“I believe schools try very hard to make students feel safe to share their battles with depression and anxiety; however, I feel that the stigma surrounding these topics still plagues students and might prevent them from sharing this with others,” said English teacher Gail Goebel.

Students who are unable to discuss their struggles with depression and anxiety often affects overall ability to focus on schoolwork.

“I think depression and anxiety makes work a lot more difficult and draining,” said sophomore and Youth Depression Advisory Committee member Grace Wolverton. “People get stressed out and avoid their work, or put a lot of effort into it, but worry about it being perfect to the point where it becomes unhealthy. Or kids are so depressed they can’t work up the will to do their work and their grades start going downhill, which just make it worse.”

In a study at Boston University, 21.9 percent of students said anxiety affected academic performance in the last 12 months.

“I think the teachers notice students’ depression try to help, but it can be difficult to see the signs, and, when they do, it can be difficult to confront them about it,” Wolverton said. “The homework load of classes can be stressful, but most of the teachers I’ve seen are trying to help with that and lighten the homework load.”

By lightening the workload, teachers help to minimize this anxiety.

“Teachers need to be mindful of students’ homework load,” said English teacher Trisha Stevens. “They need to give meaningful, purposeful homework, not busy work.”

The homework loads that teachers give are not always necessary, and unnecessary homework can have a negative impact on students, especially students who struggle with motivation from depression and/or anxiety.

Depression and anxiety is a tough subject, but I think the more we talk about it and help students the more knowledge and support of how to help will happen,” Kwiatkowski said. 

The Youth Depression Advisory Committee is another way that staff members at Gull Lake help students who struggle with depression.

“YDAC meets monthly during the school year, and our goal is to reduce the stigma of mental health diagnoses,” said Joni Knapper, Gull Lake Community School’s nurse and head of the YDAC. “We do this through Community Events like our twice a year Bright Nights and student programing like Transitions and Staff education.”

The Bright Nights are informational nights that inform parents, students and community members about the symptoms and causes of depression and anxiety. Transitions are educational days for seniors that teach how to deal with mental illnesses outside of high school. Guest speakers address senior ELA classes regarding topical mental health issues and strategies to deal with these after high school.

Our student reps have helped us promote our Bright Nights, plan events, and set goals every school year,” Knapper said.

YDAC continues to work towards raising awareness about depression and anxiety among adolescents, but the school itself plans to continue to strive and make changes.

“The schools take mental health very seriously, but I think we can always do better,” Knapper said. “We pay for programs like Gatekeeper in 7th and 9th grades, as well as Transitions in 12th.”

The school programs raise awareness about mental health, and how it affects students, as well as precautions to take when teens see symptoms in friends. The school focuses solely on raising awareness but lacks heavily in providing ways for students struggling from mental illnesses to gain stability.


Click here to view strategies to help depressed teen students in the classroom.

Click here to view ‘A Teenagers Guide to Depression’. 


Courtney Pedersen

My name is Courtney Pedersen and I'm a senior. For the Reflection I primarily write news and feature stories. I am the news and media editor. I also am heavily involved in TAB, PAC, Spanish Club and the literary magazine.


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