Category: Child / Adolescent - Depression

PS2- #C85 - An Examination of the Relationship Between School Connectedness and Adolescent Depressive Symptoms in a School Mental Health Program

Friday, Nov 17
9:45 AM – 10:45 AM
Location: Indigo Ballroom CDGH, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: Adolescent Depression | School | Treatment-CBT

School connectedness has been defined as the extent to which students feel valued, accepted, and included within a school environment (Goodenow, 1993). Adolescents’ ratings of school connectedness have been shown to be related to emotional well-being (Harborg, 1994; Furlong et al., 2003; Maddox & Prinz, 2003). Furthermore, perceptions of feeling connected to school have been associated with relatively fewer mental health symptoms (Anderman & Freeman, 2004; Jacobson & Rowe, 1999; Shochet et al., 2006). The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship between school connectedness and depressive symptoms in a sample of adolescents who underwent a trial of CBT at the Assessment, Support, and Counseling (ASC) Center, a school mental health program in the southeastern United States.

Participants (N = 87; 42.5% male) were students between the ages of 14 and 18 (M = 15.72, SD = 1.20) referred for CBT between 2013 and 2015. Students received an average of 13.24 sessions (SD = 8.84) of CBT with an average event duration of 35.92 minutes (SD = 9.12). The Psychological Sense of School Membership (PSSM; Goodenow, 1993) and the Self-Report Depression Scale from Behavioral Assessment Scale for Children, 2nd Edition (BASC-2; Reynolds & Kamphaus, 2004) were administered at baseline and post-treatment.

Results revealed a significant difference in average depressive symptoms between baseline (M = 59.88, SD = 13.18) and post-treatment (M = 50.56, SD = 10.48) BASC-2 depression scores (M = 9.32, SD = 13.72), t(58) = 5.217, p < .001, d = .68. There was not a significant difference between baseline (M = 3.31, SD = 0.73) and post-treatment (M = 3.42, SD = .88) PSSM scores (M = -0.11, SD = 0.71), t(47) = -1.09, p = .28, d = .16.  Relatively higher levels of school connectedness were associated with relatively lower levels of depressive symptoms at baseline (r = -0.28, 95% CI [-.47, -.07], p = .01) and at post-treatment (r = -.40, 95% CI [-.63, -.11], p = .01).

The results of the current study were suggestive of improvements in depressive symptoms at post-treatment for adolescents after a brief course of CBT. Student perceptions of school connectedness remained stable over the course of treatment. In addition, relatively higher levels of school connectedness were associated with relatively fewer depressive symptoms at baseline and at post-treatment. These data are consistent with previous studies that found support for an inverse relationship between school connectedness and depressive symptoms in adolescents. The results from this study might be helpful in planning and delivering CBT-based prevention and treatment interventions for youth in schools.  

Rachel E. Capps

Graduate Student
Appalachian State University
Boone, North Carolina

Rebecca Schenk

Appalachian State University

Morgan Brazille

Appalachian State University

JohnPaul Jameson

Associate Professor
Appalachian State University

Kurt Michael

Appalachian State University