Many adolescent girls experience different forms of depression, but they rarely obtain mental health treatment because of the stigma among their peers that they fear might occur as related to depression (Pinto-Foltz, Hines-Martin, & Logsdon, 2010). It is estimated that up to 41 percent of all high school girls had “clinically significant symptoms of depression,” while 24 percent experience “suicidal ideation,” and 11 percent had “attempted suicide” (Pinto-Foltz, 2010). Furthermore, girls in this age group are twice as likely to experience depression than boys, thereby requiring an evaluation of the conditions in which these circumstances occur (Pinto-Foltz, 2010).

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Adolescent Girls’ Understanding and Management of Depression within their Peer Group

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Using the keywords human response and depression, a number of articles were identified, and the article that addressed this concept most effectively will now be discussed.

This qualitative study used two focus groups to discuss depression and mental health services with 21 adolescent girls from a southern public high school, using grounded theory (Pinto-Foltz, 2010). These focus groups were created to identify behaviors, perceptions, and knowledge experienced by adolescent girls with respect to depression and mental health concerns (Pinto-Foltz, 2010). A substantive theory was identified and was used to enable participants to evaluate mental health concepts, similar to adult perspectives (Pinto-Foltz, 2010). Data was collected using two focus groups (n=10, n=11) in one-hour sessions during school hours under the guidance of two investigators, and all data derived was taped and transcribed for further evaluation (Pinto-Foltz, 2010). Field notes were also generated by the investigators and grounded theory was adopted, using codes to decipher different perspectives shared by the participants (Pinto-Foltz, 2010).

The results indicate a theme of “dual nature,” along with specific categories identified as “child concerns,” “adult concerns,” and “concrete nature” (Pinto-Foltz, 2010). Participants provided information using one or more perspectives and demonstrated fear and worry regarding peers’ depression and potential risk of suicide, particularly in the adult concerns group (Pinto-Foltz, 2010). Child concerns included the expression of terminologies such as “mental” and “psycho,” and other perceptions require the examination of the different constructs of adolescent behaviors in girls (Pinto-Foltz, 2010). Adolescent girls were likely to engage in passive referral rather than active referral, and appeared to trust adult role models to prevent physical risks in their peers (Pinto-Foltz, 2010).

This qualitative study provides further evidence that adolescent girls are concerned regarding their peers’ mental health issues and depression and are willing to at least passively engage in discussions regarding these experiences with others (Pinto-Foltz, 2010). Adolescent girls identify specific behaviors, such as anorexia, that they deem serious (Pinto-Foltz, 2010); therefore, the potential exists to develop potential interventions that may have a positive impact on adolescent girls, such as cognitive behavior therapy (Creemers, Engels, Vermulst, & Wiers, 2014). The potential exists to examine adolescent girls’ mental health status and depression as part of a larger program to educate this group to recognize possible depression and mental health concerns in their peers that will have a positive influence on these individuals (Creemers, 2014).