Date of Award:

1997

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Psychology

Advisor/Chair:

Susan L. Crowley

Abstract

Depression represents a serious mental health problem that affects the lives of many children. Depression is frequently cited as the most recurrent emotional problem facing younger populations. Left untreated, depression can have several negative ramifications on later adjustment, including suicide, substance use, academic and social difficulties, low self-esteem, and an increased risk for other mental health problems.

The search for effective treatments for depression has extended into several arenas. Schools play an important role in the lives of children and provide an ideal setting for early detection and remediation of depression at every stage. Schools are increasingly being encouraged to offer preventative mental health services to deal with emotional issues that may often go unnoticed until a crisis situation. However, there remain a small number of studies that have investigated the impact of school-based preventative interventions for depression. For this reason, a school-based, primary prevention study was conducted.

The current study utilized an interpersonal and cognitive-behavioral model that was incorporated into the health education curriculum of the school. The sample included four fifth-grade classes in a rural school district. The study was conducted using a quasi-experimental design similar to a Solomon four-group design with two intervention and two control classes. The intervention was a total of eight 50-minute sessions. The subjects were assessed using a variety of self-report, sociometric, and rating-scale instruments.

The results of the study suggest that social skills were statistically significantly impacted by the intervention, and moderate standardized mean difference effect sizes (ES) of .51 and .48 were found.

Depressive symptom reduction was less pronounced. Additional findings indicate that the children did in fact learn the principles conveyed throughout the intervention, including methods of alleviating depressive symptomatology and social skills relevant for fifth-grade children. The results are discussed in the context of primary prevention models in other areas of mental health.

Included in

Psychology Commons

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