Why does school make me depressed?

Every third student suffers from depressive moods

You feel alone, misunderstood or lacking motivation: According to a new DAK study, almost every third student suffers from depressive moods. Significantly more students are affected at secondary schools than at grammar schools.

The problems of young people are often related to school stress and pressure to perform. This is shown by a current survey of almost 6,000 boys and girls between the ages of eleven and 18, which the Leuphana University of Lüneburg carried out on behalf of the health insurance company at 25 schools in seven federal states.

Many people affected in secondary schools

In the study, 24 percent of the students said they “often sit there and don't want to do anything”. Every tenth respondent agrees with the statement “nobody understands me”. The proportion of students with depressive moods increases steadily with age - from 23 percent in the 11th year of life to 33 percent in the 18th year of life. The proportion of boys and girls is almost the same among those affected. However, the problems are very different depending on the type of school. At secondary schools and secondary schools, the number of pupils affected is significantly higher at 32 percent than at grammar schools with 24 percent. For students with a migration background, the proportion is particularly high at 36 percent.

“The number of mental illnesses in adults has skyrocketed in recent years,” explains Dr. Cornelius Erbe, head of the DAK product management division. "The current study shows that the problems often start at school age." It is therefore important to sensitize teachers to the symptoms of pupils with abnormalities and to create open counseling options. Targeted parenting offers on the topic are also required.

Everyday school life is a problem for young people

Everyday school life is troublesome for many young people with depressive moods. Those affected suffer from one much more often
stressful class atmosphere, under high pressure to perform (43 percent) and school stress (23 percent) than their classmates. The students are also twice as likely to be dissatisfied with their performance as the boys and girls with no problems. According to the results of the DAK study, boys and girls with depressive moods rated their life skills as lower on average. 22 percent of the students with depressive moods rate their life skills as low compared to only 6 percent of the respondents without a depressive mood. "Those affected more often have unfavorable coping strategies when dealing with problems," explains project manager Silke Rupprecht from the Leuphana University of Lüneburg. "More than twice as many boys and girls with depressive moods (37 percent) prefer to avoid problems instead of actively solving them - compared to 18 percent of those surveyed without depressive moods." Avoiding problems can help stabilize psychological problems contribute.

Offers of help for schools and parents

Together with other experts, DAK and Leuphana University recommend carrying out targeted prevention and intervention measures. For example, special support programs for schoolchildren with depressive moods could improve their life skills. The aim is to learn creative thinking and the ability to actively solve problems. Starting points for schools can be:
Further training and advice for teachers on the subject of depressive disorders in schoolchildren;
Use cooperative forms of learning to strengthen the assumption of responsibility;
Offer parents' evenings and offers on the subject of mental disorders.

Affected parents are recommended:

  • Accept the children's feelings and seek conversation
  • Introduce consistent rituals in the family, as they provide security and thus prevent stress
  • Promote the child's independence and praise it in a targeted manner
  • Promote physical balance in the children.

The current study "Depressive moods in schoolchildren" was created as part of the DAK initiative "Developing a healthy school together". The Leuphana University of Lüneburg accompanies and advises 30 schools across Germany that have applied for the three-year project for the health insurance company. The health goals are set individually by each school. The basis is a comprehensive survey of students, teachers and parents about everyday school life and the school climate. In the surveys in May 2008, May 2009 and May 2010 a total of 5840 pupils from nine secondary, secondary and regional schools, three comprehensive schools, seven grammar schools and six vocational schools took part.