Master of Science in School Psychology Preventing Depression in School-Aged Children

The American Psychological Association has recently described a ground-breaking new school-based program that is seeking solutions to the rising rates of depression in children. Today’s children have a 9% risk of experiencing major depression before the age of 14 and a 20% chance of experiencing at least one episode of major depression before they graduate from highschool.

Professionals with a Master of Science in School Psychology are concerned about these statistics due to their future implications. A child who has experienced major depression is further at risk for struggling with major depression as an adult. To combat this “common cold” of mental health, psychologists are using the discipline of school psychology to teach thinking habits in schools that will prevent depression.

Research from psychology graduate schools has pointed to the value of being positive in thinking and problem-solving skills. Professionals of school psychology chose to teach these skills to students at risk for major depression. Students in the new school-based program were taught to identify negative thinking patterns and replace them with positive thoughts. Areas that were targeted include self-image, thoughts about others, and thoughts about the world in general. Students were also taught assertiveness and relaxation techniques.

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After the training, the professionals of school psychology followed up with the students six months and two years later. At the six-month point, children who had learned the new skills had fewer symptoms of depression and better behavior in the classroom than children who had not learned the skills. At the two-year point, children who had learned the prevention skills had a 22% rate of moderate to severe symptoms of major depression, whereas children who had not learned the skills had a 44% rate of moderate to severe major depression.

The program used in the study period is now in effect at multiple locations in honor of the original psychology graduate school that conducted the research. School systems in California, New Jersey, Texas, Minnesota, New York, and Illinois are using the program to improve mental health and classroom behavior of students.

This program serves as one of the many successes in the profession of school psychology. Psychology graduate schools such as Capella University are producing qualified graduates to continue to make advances in the discipline of school psychology. Students interested in pursuing a career in school psychology may visit for an extensive list of available programs and additional resources.

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