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School-Based Interventions : Depression
Interventions for Sad Mood

  1. Check in with the student to quantify his/her mood status each day

    Allow the student to complete a mood scale (10=very happy to 1=very sad) at first check-in time each morning; keep track to see if any patterns emerge (Mondays, before tests, etc.).
  2. Connect academic assignments with student-specific interests or special projects

    Provide interesting context to make academics more life-related: "In baseball, they divide hits by at bats to determine batting average, using the same strategy we just learned." "Since you like to dance, use these division principles to choreograph how long to do each move."
  3. Identify extracurricular activities where the student can be with peers who have common interests

    With the student and parents, identify enjoyable activities (particularly exercise-related) and specific peers to participate with, and encourage the student. Have the student record in a personal journal with a photo, a paragraph, or a drawing describing the event. top

Specialized Instruction

  • Have the student journal regularly to identify mood patterns or cycles

    Allow the student to write, particularly when distressed, and encourage descriptions of places, times, and events as well as mood descriptions. Encourage the student to draw pictures, write songs or poems to describe his/her personal feelings of sadness, anger or despair.
  • Encourage the student to employ special "visuals" to counter negative feelings

    "Visualize your sadness melting like an icicle," "karate chop away the negative thoughts."
  • Have the student visualize the sequence of events leading to past achievements

    "When you won the baseball game, how did you do it? Prepared how? Did what things differently for that game? Handled the other team by...? Came from behind by thinking...?"
  • Help the student identify "all the evidence" surrounding his/her negative perceptions of self or events

    Examine specific events that led to the student's conclusion that "I'm no good." "What happened that led to this conclusion? What were your thoughts? What else? Did anything happen that disputes your conclusion? What else happened in your other classes that day? What else happened at home, after school?"
  • Help the student identify evidence contributing to his/her mood state, and evidence against it

    Describe specific events (triggers and/or thoughts) contributing to a particular mood, and then evidence that does not support feeling bad/sad. If needed, as homework, have the student solicit and document challenging input from other teachers, peers, and family.
  • Challenge the student's negative cognitions

    The student says "I can't go to school - everyone hates me." Ask him/her: "what do students do when they arrive at school? Which students are glad to see you?"
  • Help the student identify automatic negative thoughts

    The student says "I'm no fun. No one wants to be around/play with me." Ask the student: "what happened that made you think this?" or "what evidence leads you to reach this conclusion?"
  • Help the student examine other perspectives

    The student says "I can't do this." Ask the student: "how would your best friend/someone you admire/Spiderman react to this situation? What does your friend/parent/hero think about your situation?"
  • Provide the student with competing responses to negative thoughts or behaviors

    The student says "I'm afraid I'll start crying in class." Ask the student: "if you start to feel sad, what can you do before you start to cry? Can you read something that makes you laugh or distracts you from your sadness? Is there somewhere you can go if you feel the urge to cry?"
  • Encourage positive self-talk and break tasks down

    The student says "I do badly at everything I try." Have the student practice saying "I'm just going to get my paper out and get started. Now I will start by writing my name up here."
  • Encourage positive skills

    The student says: "I'm too tired to do my homework." Reinforce the student's completing his/her homework by saying "you can plan for your friend to come over as soon as you finish your homework."  top

Behavioral Planning

  • Provide the student a time/place beforehand to regroup if the student feels weepy or fatigued

    Specify safe (adult-monitored) places for the student to go if upset or unable to do schoolwork (counselor's office, resource room).
  • Acknowledge the student's feelings (rather than dispute/argue with feelings)

    "It's sad when….," "discouraging," "frustrating" rather than "it's not so bad," or "aw, come on, things will be better soon."  top
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