Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics released new guidelines that include annual screenings for depression for adolescents 12 and up.
“In 2015, an estimated three million adolescents aged 12 to 17 in the U.S. had experienced at least one major depressive episode in the past year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health,” according to this article from Cheryl Weinstock.
According to the infographic below, of those who suffer depression who are left untreated, 20% develop psychotic symptoms, and 66% develop anxiety or anti-social behaviors.
Educators have been speaking out about the paucity of tools available to deal with these challenges for years. Yet everyone who is not in education seems to think that they know better.
In one of his responses to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Robert Runcie, the Superintendent of Broward County Schools said, “The second thing I would say, that the governor alluded to it,” he added, referring to Gov. Rick Scott, “something we can do now and get done in the legislative session is some real funding for mental health support for our youth and organizations in our community so we can properly provide the right kind of interventions. We should not have disconnected youth wandering around in our communities and we know that they need additional support.” (The first thing was to have more “sensible gun control laws.”)
Organizations like Find Your Words are trying to help remove the stigma of depression. But, as we watch the students from Parkland stand up against the NRA and get repeatedly deflected by the politicians of their own state as well as others across the nation, it is becoming difficult to believe that anyone cares about the words of teenagers. And, as more and more calls come to “arm teachers” despite the fact that the majority of teachers disagree, it seems our opinions are also falling on deaf ears.
If you really care about your children, and if you really respect educators, please hear us when we say that armed teachers are not the solution. Invest, instead, in supporting mental health initiatives that will address the pain that so many young people suffer in agonizing silence. Listen to us when we say that we don’t want money wasted on getting more bullets and guns on our campuses. Fight for our right to help our children instead of to shoot them.