The following Mental Health Series were developed by HHS HealthCare Academy students
Annual Depression Screening
During the fall of each year, the incoming freshman class is screened for depression. Students who show signs of critical indicators are referred to their counselor for support. For more information on the screening process, contact one of the High School’s counseling staff. Contact information for the counseling staff can be found by clicking here.
This screening does not identify all students who may be in need of support due to depression, anxiety, bipolar disease or other mental illnesses experienced by teens. Below, and in the right hand column, are resources that may be helpful to students and families. We encourage you to reach out to a school counselor or other trusted adult if you or someone you know is in need of additional information or support.
Mental Health Quick Reference
Depression is a mental illness commonly experienced by teens. It is characterized by frequent (almost daily) occurrences of at least a few of the following symptoms for two or more weeks:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or ’empty’ mood.
- Hopelessness, pessimism, or irritability.
- Feelings of guilt, helplessness, or worthlessness.
- Loss of interest in hobbies or activities.
- Decreased energy.
- Moving or talking more slowly.
- Restlessness or fidgety.
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions.
- Oversleeping or insomnia.
- Appetite changes.
- Unexplainable aches or cramps that persist after treatment.
- Suicidal thought or attempts.
These symptoms have been quoted from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Additional information on depression can be found on the NIMH website by clicking here.
It is not necessary for all these symptoms to be present for depression to be diagnosed; all that is required is persistence of a key few, such as a persistent low feeling that occurs almost daily for at least two weeks.
Although symptoms may not be present or persistent to the degree required for an official diagnosis of depression, these symptoms may still indicated other mental health problems. If you have any questions contact your school counselor or other trusted adult.
Anxiety disorders are a family of mental illnesses (often simply referred to as anxiety). Within this category are found generalized anxiety, panic anxiety, and social anxiety.
Generalized anxiety disorder symptoms may include:
- Feeling restless or on edge.
- Being easily fatigued.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Muscle tension.
- Difficulty controlling worry.
- Sleep problems (insomnia or restless sleeping).
Panic anxiety disorder is distinguished by the presence of “sudden and repeated attacks of intense fear” (panic attacks). Additional symptoms include:
- Feelings of being out of control during a panic attack.
- Intense worry about when the next attack will occur.
- Fear or avoidance of areas where past attacks have occured.
Social anxiety disorder is characterized by fear of social situations and interaction. Its symptoms include:
- Feeling highly anxious during interpersonal interactions and having trouble talking to others.
- Feeling very self-conscious around others and being fearful of rejection, humiliation, embarrassment, or causing offense.
- Fear of being judged by others.
- Worrying for days or weeks about attending an event where other people will be.
- Avoiding places where other people will be.
- Having a difficult time making or keeping friends.
- Blushing, sweating, trembling, or nausea around others.
These symptoms have been quoted from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Additional information on anxiety distorders can be found on the NIMH website by clicking here.
If you have questions or feel that you may be experiencing an anxiety disorder, contact your school counselor or other trusted adult.
Bipolar Disorder or Manic-Depressive Disorder
Bipolar disorder or manic-depressive disorder, is a mental illness that induces periods of elation and energetic behavior (manic episodes) coupled with periods of sadness and hoplessness (depressive episodes). The types of bipolar disorders are characterized by the severity and length of these periods.
Bipolar I Disorder – involves manic episodes at least seven days in length or of such severity that hospital visits may be required; depressive periods in turn will often last at least two weeks. It is also possible for the periods to overlap ( having both manic and depressive symptoms at once).
Bipolar II Disorder – is characterized by less severe manic (or hypomanic) episodes.
Cyclothymic Disorder (or Cyclothymia) – is defined as numerous hypomanic and depressive periods, less severe than those found in Bipolar II Disorder but lasting at least a year in teens and children (two years for adults).
There are other, less common disorders characterized by symptoms not seen above.
Manic episodes are characterized by the following behaviors:
- Feeling high or elated.
- Excessive energy.
- Increased activity levels.
- Feeling “jumpy.”
- Having trouble sleeping.
- Talking fast.
- Agitation and irritability.
- Racing thoughts.
- Risky behaviors.
Depressive episodes are characterized by the following behaviors:
- Feeling sad, hopeless, or empty.
- Low energy.
- Decreased activity levels.
- Having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much.
- Feeling unable to enjoy anything.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Eating too much/too little.
- Suicidal thoughts.
These symptoms have been quoted from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Additional information on Bipolar Disorder can be found on the NIMH website by clicking here.
If you have any questions or worry that you may suffer from a bipolar disorder, contact your school counselor or other trusted adult.