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BREADCRUMB

Anxiety and Depression

Two common mental health disorders are depression and anxiety. Both cause challenges for an individual which decreases their ability to cope with typical stresses of life, realize their full potential, and enjoy life to its fullest extent. Although they can be difficult and frustrating to live with, mental health disorders are treatable with medication, therapy, a combination of both, and/or other treatments!

Anxiety and Depression Support

Community, State, and National Agencies

School Counselors:

School counselors are available at every Bellevue school to support students in need of assistance. School counselors can support students by developing emotional literacy, strengthening emotional regulation, and increasing coping skills. School counselors can support students and families in finding resources for counseling, both inside and outside of school. If a student’s ability to participate in class or at school is impacted by depressive symptoms or anxiety, school counselors can assist in creation and implementation of a 504 Plan or a special education referral. Counselors can help students with short-term concerns and help facilitate access to more long-term help. To learn more about what school counselors can do, please visit our Counseling webpage.

Mental Health Assistance Team (MHAT):

MHAT counselors are available at every high school, middle school, and choice school. They help provide the Signs of Suicide Lesson in grades 7-10, as well as provide the BIMAS2 screen for students in grades 7 through 11. The MHAT counselors are available to provide mental health counseling for students grades 7 through 11. To access an MHAT counselor, please contact your student’s School counselor.

School-Based Community Mental Health Counselors:

In addition to the school counselors and MHAT counselors, the Bellevue School District partners with multiple community-based mental health providers to support students after initial reports of suicide thinking. Counselors from these agencies can provide counseling in the school to help students in need. Contact your school counselor or MHAT counselor to request these services. Bellevue contracts with the following agencies:


Basic Definitions

Stress

A body response that includes feelings of intense fear, nervousness and tenseness. Stress is a normal response to a real outside threat or challenging situation/circumstance. Stress is normal and at times can be helpful. In contrast, anxiety is a stress response to a threat that is perceived but does not really exist. It can also be perception that we are not able to meet the demands of a specific situation. Anxiety can sometimes be difficult to explain, but people often describe body sensations such as tense muscles, stomach-aches, jitteriness and headaches. Anxiety is also a normal part of life but can become a problem when it prevents kids from participating in activities they enjoy or interferes with daily life routines.

Worry

Involves repeated negative thoughts about a situation that often occurs in anxiety. Like stress, worry can be helpful in problem-solving situations, but too much worrying can lead to emotional distress and physical health problems.

Anxiety

A common experience for children and adults and estimates from the National Institute of Mental Health show that about 31.9% of children had an anxiety disorder at one point, while 8.3% showed a significant anxiety disorder.


Common Symptoms, Behaviors, Risk Factors

Anxiety

Below are some common symptoms associated with anxiety both at home and at school.

Home: School:
Arguing/irritability/physical aggression Disengagement in classroom activities
Bedtime routine problems Inappropriate language toward others
Complaints like headaches or stomachaches Non-compliance
Difficulties with transitions Poor grades and academic performance
Excessive device use Refusal to complete assigned work
Extremely high expectations of self/others Shouting at others
Refusing to go to school Hiding or running from the classroom
Avoiding people, places, situations Increased nurse or counselor visits
Bed-wetting Physical aggression
Crying Reassurance seeking
Difficulty settling down for bed School refusal (avoiding)
Excessive worrying Skipping classes/school
Hiding  
Withdrawal  

 

Depression

Just like stress, feeling sad is a part of the normal human experience. Sadness is defined as feeling low/down/upset due a specific event/situation. We all experience times of sadness due to loss and our expectations not meeting reality. When sadness increases or does not go away naturally people may experience depression. Depression is a common and serious mood disorder that affects how one feels, how one thinks, and how one acts for more than two weeks. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or loss of interest in activities that usually bring one joy. Depression can also cause anger, irritability or apathy. Depression is treatable!

Just like anxiety, depression is common amongst children and adolescents, but occurs at a lower rate. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 15.7% of children aged 12-17 have had at least one episode of major depression.

The listings below show some common symptoms associated with depression both at home and at school.

Home: School:
Appetite changes, alcohol or substance use Alcohol or substance use
Difficulty concentrating Frequent visits to counselor/nurse
Difficulty with relationships Irritability, agitation, anger, or hostility
Homework refusal Low self-esteem
Isolating from people Poor hygiene
Low motivation for fun activities Skipping classes
Negative thoughts about oneself and guilt Slowed thinking
Sensitivity to rejection/failure Thoughts of death/suicide
Thoughts about death/suicide Difficulty concentrating
Big emotional responses to small issues Gives up on activities easily
Difficulty getting up for school Lack/loss of friendships
Excessive use of electronic devices Poor grades and work completion
Irritability, agitation, anger, or hostility School absences and refusal
Lack of energy and feelings of boredom Sleeping in class
Low self-esteem Tardiness to school
Sad mood, hopelessness, and/or despair Withdrawal from activities and sports
Sleeping too much or too little  
Thinking it would be better to not be alive  

How Are Students With Anxiety and Depression Identified?

The aim of the district’s Student Well-Being Strategic Initiative is to support students that are struggling with physical and mental health to promote personal and academic growth. As a part of this initiative, the district uses multiple approaches to achieve these goals. These include universal screens for social-emotional and mental health functioning. The SEL screening using the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA) and Panorama screen for social-emotional skills assessments and the Behavior Intervention Monitoring and Assessment System 2 (BIMAS2) for mental health screening.

Screening

The Bellevue School District currently provides universal mental health screening for students in grades 7 through 11. The screener is provided in an opt-out manner where notification is provided to parents/guardians in advance of the screener being provided. Parents/guardians can choose to opt their student out of the process by returning the Opt-Out Form. The screener is also voluntary for students to take, and they can opt-out at any point.

The district uses the Behavior Intervention Monitoring and Assessment System 2 (BIMAS2) to screen students. For 7th through 11th grade students, the screening team uses the Self-Report form of the BIMAS2. The BIMAS2 consists of 34 questions that break into 5 scales: Conduct, Negative Affect, Cognitive Attention, Social, and Academic Functioning. The Negative Affect scale is a specific focus for screening for anxiety and depression. Additionally, the screening team examines question number 24 which asks students about thoughts of self-harm. Members of the Mental Health Assistance Team (MHAT) and School Counselors follow up with students that report thoughts of self-harm and feelings of anxiety and depression. Students with concerning scores are frequently offered counseling services from the MHAT Counselors or are referred to outside community mental health agencies.

Mental Health Assistance Team Counselors are counselors that provide direct short-term counseling services to students identified through the screening process.


Learn More About Anxiety and Depression

Books

  • CBT Toolbox for Children & Adolescents (2017) By Lisa Phifer and others

  • Helping Your Anxious Child: A Step-by-Step Guide for Parents

  • Talking Back to OCD: The Program that Helps Kids and Teens Say “No way” – and Parents Say “Way to go” (2006) John March and Christine Benton

  • Getting Your Child to Say “Yes” to School: A Guide for Parents of Youth with School Refusal Behavior (2007). Christopher Kearny

  • Freeing Your Child from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Powerful, Practical Program for Parents of Children and Adolescents (2001). Tamar Chansky

  • Freeing Your Child from Anxiety, Revised and Updated Edition: Practical Strategies to Overcome Fears, Worries, and Phobias and Be Prepared for Life–from Toddlers to Teens (2014). Tamar Chansky

  • What to Do Guides for Kids- A series of children’s books written by Dawn Huebner that help with anxiety, sleep, negativity, worrying, anger, and OCD

Websites