A new study suggests that the school environment during eighth grade can influence a greater risk of depression for the students when they enter high school.

There is no shortage of teenagers who will tell you their high school is a depressing place. But some of them may be on to something.

A recent study looked at whether a school’s social and educational environment is linked to students’ depression symptoms.

The researchers found there is a slight link between the two. The quality of the school environment in 8th grade could partly predict depression symptoms in students in 10th and 11th grades.

Girls were slightly more likely than boys to have higher levels of depression symptoms following a poorer school environment.

The study, led by Frédéric N. Brière, PhD, from the School Environment Research Group at the University of Montreal in Canada, aimed to understand how a school’s social and educational environment might interact with students’ risk of depression.

The researchers tracked 5,262 teenagers from 71 high schools throughout Quebec, Canada, from 7th grade through 11th grade. These schools included French- and English-speaking schools as well as small, mid-size and large schools.

Each student was assessed in terms of their depression symptoms in 7th grade and then again in 10th and 11th grades.

All the students in each school – beyond just the ones included in the study – also filled out questionnaires in 8th grade that enabled the researchers to rate the school’s socio-educational environment.

The quality of a school’s socio-educational environment was based on four broad categories: fairness and rules, social climate, safety and learning opportunities.

Fairness and rules related to how clear the rules are and how equitably they’re implemented, surveillance in the school and whether the school fostered a “climate of justice.”

The social climate measure included quality of relationship among students alone and between students and teachers. Safety referred to a “climate of security and the amount of school violence.

Continue reading about how school environment influences the risk of depression.

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