Predicting depressive symptoms during the transition to high school

The transition to high school is a challenging developmental period, during which prevalence rates of depression more than double. In fact, by the end of the first year of high school, 11.5% of adolescents will have experienced a depressive episode in the last year, and many more adolescents will have experienced elevated depressive symptoms that interfere with school performance, social friendships, or physical health. Despite the importance of this transition, little is known about predictors of depression during it, and most students report feeling insufficiently supported to cope with it. Thus, the proposed research will work towards answering two questions critical to Canadian youth:

  1. What causes adolescents to develop depression during the transition to high school?
  2. What can we do to help students better cope with this transition and to mitigate risk for depression during it?

Findings will be critical to improving students' emotional health during the high-school transition. Knowledge translation activities will inform future research, practice, and policy.