by Sarah Nove ’20
After the suicides of two MCPS students in the Fall, condolences flooded social media and many Montgomery County residents voiced their concerns on the ‘epidemic’ of teen suicide. Though many of these concerns faded after a few days, some sprouted into movements.
Jonathan Mortman and Rachel Herman, students at Richard Montgomery, are two of the individuals whose concerns grew into something bigger, namely, the Teen Depression Awareness Campaign (TDAC), which strives to “stop being reactive, and start being proactive,” as stated on its website. The campaign is dedicated to advocating for teens with depression and connecting these teens with the resources that they require to get better.
TDAC also seeks to educate people on depression through working with programs such as umttr (pronounced “you matter”) and Johns Hopkins University’s Adolescent Depression Awareness Program (ADAA). According to a CDC study conducted in 2015, suicide is the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 15 and 34 in the United States, yet many schools teach little to nothing about depression. According to a publication by the National Center for Children in Poverty from 2011, “almost three-quarters of states require that drug and alcohol prevention education is included in the health curriculum, but only one state explicitly establishes social and emotional learning standards for schools.” In the MCPS health curriculum, mental health is discussed for one to two weeks, with a few days dedicated to discussing depression, out of 19 weeks total of the course.
Through their work with other foundations, the members of TDAC hope to not only broaden mental health education, but to normalize discussions about mental health. Experts say many teens with depression do not seek help or receive treatment — a fact that can be attributed, in part, to the stigmas around mental illness.
More information about TDAC and ways to get involved can be found at sites.google.com/ view/t- dac/home or on Instagram @t.d.a.campaign.