How Depression Affects Students’ Learning


Angelica Avila, Staff Writer

A subject many tend to look away from, depression affects all of us, especially when it comes to how it affects school.  As someone with depression I feel that not enough is done in most schools these days to make students with depression feel safe. When my depression hits, I can’t focus on my work even if I want to. I bring myself down or focus on the thing that caused it. It is hard to tell teachers how you feel or what’s going on at home. It’s just the sense that I have to solve my problems and not drag others into it. I’m grateful for the teachers who’ve taken the time to help and understand what was wrong at the time,  but, growing up, I wish we had a space for students to talk freely to each other or to a counselor. 

The most difficult part of depression for most students is a lack of consideration and a fear of failure. They become afraid of being a bother to others if they try to ask for help and generally agree that it’s a social problem that affects their work, making it harder for them to work in groups or talk out loud.

Depression also affects students’ relationships with everyone. Some find it difficult to make connections with others and believe some teachers don’t care about their students’ mental state, increasing their difficulty of their struggle to participate in class or voice their opinions/feelings.

When asked if they had a classroom at HHS where they felt safe, many students with depression said it was those of the more laid back teachers who tried to make their students smile (AND do work).  These students said they feel more comfortable with Mrs. Shonda , Ms. Clynch , Mrs. Harkins, and Mr. Coulter because of their calm, understanding, and comforting atmosphere. There were also some who felt their “safe place” at HHS was wherever their friends are.

Students with depression need a driving force, something that motivates them to keep going when they’re feeling down or hopeless.  Common forces are friends, grades, pets, parents, fear of disappointing others, and the thought of leaving town when they are done with school.  While these aren’t solutions for depression, these forces can motivate these students to push through in class and life.

HHS students with depression suggest to “think of the good memories that make you smile. Find something that makes you happy. Go outside, enjoy the peaceful outdoors. Find someone you’re comfortable with that you can [vent] to. Speak out and tell someone ‘I’m hurting, and I want help.’  Students with depression need to be told, ‘You are important, and your feelings matter!’

Assistant Principal Adam Chandler said, “Depression is a very personal issue that affects everyone differently and can have huge negative impacts on a student’s education. We take reports of students who are dealing with depression very seriously.  Depression can be a catalyst that leads students and adults to very dangerous situations. I would tell any student who is suffering from depression you are not alone, and we are always here to help.”

Overall, all HHS students interviewed said, “We wish we had a support group with a certified counselor on campus where we can feel safe and calm, an after school or during school group therapy.”  HHS does have a certified counselor who comes on an individual basis as needed, but many would prefer having someone on campus daily because requesting to speak to a counselor in the office triggers their anxiety.