Adolescent depression and school environment

Adolescents often blame their schools for making them depressed. There is reasonable evidence that adolescents who view their school positively are less likely to become depressed, but less evidence that school can make one depressed. Over 5000 Canadian adolescents participating in a longitudinal study on school success in disadvantaged communities were followed annually from grades 7 to 11 (approximately age 12–16 years).[1] The socio-educational environment was assessed using a questionnaire completed by >70 000 adolescents that purported to measure social climate (student–student and teacher–student relationships), learning opportunities (classroom and extracurricular), fairness and rules (clarity and fairness of implementation of rules), and safety (climate of security and school violence). After adjusting for previous depressive symptoms and individual and school confounders, the study found a modest but statistically significant correlation in self-reported depressive symptoms between schools, with an intraclass correlation of 3.3%. A better school environment in grade 8 reduced the risk of depressive symptoms 2–3 years later, an association that was slightly stronger for boys than girls.


Reviewer: David Isaacs, Children's Hospital at Westmead,