Posted: Feb 21, 2013 at 4:14 PM [Feb 21, 2013]
ANN ARBOR – Teenagers and young adults often put on a good
front to hide feelings of depression or suicidal thoughts.
“There’s still a stigma attached with mental health
illnesses and we continually fight against that,’ said Mary Grambeau Gass, a
Clinical Social Worker with Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University
of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
“We need to educate students about the signs and symptoms of depression
and let people know that it’s not something they should avoid talking about.”
Gass and her colleague Jenna Nienhuis will give a
presentation titled “Signs and Symptoms of Depression” at the Girl Developers’
Summit from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 23 at Eastern Michigan
University. The Summit is sponsored by
Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan and will include speakers who will address issues
such as cyber safety, eating disorders and the importance of developing a
“We want to talk about the signs and symptoms of depression
and suicide and better inform caregivers about the kinds of things that might
lead them to have concerns,” Gass said.
“We want to equip them with tools to help with that and assess for that.
The Summit, the eighth one for GSHOM, is designed to be a
communitywide conversation for parents, mentors and youth development who want
girls to be safe, healthy and successful as they grow and mature, said Mariela
Rua, Adult Recruitment Specialist for GSHOM and Summit coordinator.
“This gathering provides a one-stop resource gathering
opportunity for anyone who deals with girls,” Rua said. “We take our stewardship of girls very
seriously and this Summit helps us to fulfill our mission to build girls of
courage, confidence and character who will make the world a better place.”
Gass said discussions about depression and suicide aren’t
easy to have, but they are necessary.
She sees an increase in depression and thoughts of suicide which
increases through the adolescent years and into the early 20’s, especially with
girls. She said environmental factors
such as relationship issues, bullying and even lack of sleep can trigger
feelings of depression.
“We have really high expectations of kids. A lot of stress happens during this time in
kids lives especially with high school juniors and seniors,” Gass said. “There’s a lot of pressure to perform and get
involved in extracurricular activities.
It’s a lot for kids to manage.
“Sleep is a big issue. Most of our teenagers are sleep-deprived
and their natural sleep cycle shifts when they become teenagers. They’re actually not getting tired until
midnight or 1 a.m. and than we’re forcing them to get up at 6 a.m. for school.”
The University of Michigan Depression Center is sponsoring a
program to promote peer to peer counseling in area high schools addressing issues
of depression and suicide, which includes teaching them about the importance of
adequate sleep, signs and symptoms of depression and suicidality, how to seek
Fortunately, she said, people do not always act on suicidal
thoughts. But, she said discussion needs to continue, to decrease the
societal stigma and to let people know that help is available, and that
depression is treatable.
“Many,many many people suffer from depression, suicide and
homicidal thoughts and they would never
act on that,” Gass said. “We’re seeing
more cases of depression because more people are actually getting help for
it. We make it OK for kids to ask for
Gass said she’s
hoping those who attend the Summit will take away some increased knowledge
about the signs and symptoms in adolescents in addition to treatment options.
For more information about the Girl developers’ Summit or to
register visit the GSHOM website at www.gshom.org
or call 1-800-497-2688.