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OPENPediatrics launches new course, Break Free from Depression

OPENPediatrics is pleased to announce the launch of our newest curricula, Break Free from Depression (BFFD). The program, developed by the Boston Children’s Hospital Neighborhood Partnerships program, is designed for use in high school classrooms to increase adolescents’ awareness about depression and suicide, educate youth how to recognize symptoms of depression and warning signs of suicide and provide strategies for accessing help for oneself or for a friend.

Over 2 million American adolescents experience depression each year[1], yet less than 40% of these adolescents receive treatment[2]. Left untreated, depression can lead to deterioration of school work, strained relationships with peers and adults, and high rates of absenteeism, school dropout, and substance abuse[3]. Depression also puts adolescents at greater risk for suicide; nearly 50% of those who die by suicide are diagnosed with depression[4]. Depression is treatable, and with increased awareness and early intervention efforts, young people and adults can learn to identify the signs of depression and get help.

This online Break Free from Depression course is designed to teach educators about depression and suicide awareness and provide guidance on how to facilitate and implement this course in their schools or community programs. In this series of videos, presenters model facilitation of the curriculum and give strategies for planning the sessions, organizing staff support, and communicating with school staff and student families.

The Break Free from Depression curriculum consists of 4 modules, and includes didactic presentations, interactive activities, and opportunities for discussion. These modules are taught through a series of videos, with a corresponding post-survey quiz after each one. Module 1 provides an overview of the signs and symptoms of depression and suicide.

In Module 2, learners view a documentary featuring adolescents and young adults who have struggled with depression and bravely share their stories on camera. Module 2 concludes with a relaxation activity and a discussion to debrief the documentary. View the documentary trailer for the Break Free from Depression course below.

In Module 3, students engage in a case-based discussion focused on individuals featured in the documentary. Additionally, information is provided on the warning signs of suicide in order to facilitate a discussion around challenges that are linked with depression. 

Module 4 focuses on strategies for students to use when seeking support for themselves or a friend. Students engage in activities that help them identify trusted adults, access help in school or the community, approach someone they are concerned about, and brainstorm coping skills they can use on a regular basis. 

All of the teaching materials will be available upon successful completion of this online training. Included in the materials are step-by-step directions for implementation of the curriculum, handouts, resources, and PowerPoint presentations to facilitate the student curriculum, parent workshop, staff workshop, and the Break Free from Depression documentary in English and Spanish.

Access the Break Free from Depression course here or visit the Guided Learning Pathways page.


[1] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug use and Health: Mental Health Findings, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, 2013. NSDUH Series H-47, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13-4805.  Avenevoli, S., Swendsen, J., He, J.P., Burstine, M., Merikangas, K. Major Depression in the National Comorbidity Survey – Adolescent Supplement: Prevalence, Correlates, and Treatment. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 2015:54(1), 37-44.  National Institute of Mental Health 2013.   


[2] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  Behavioral Health Barometer: United States. HHS Publication No. SMA -15-4895. 2014.


[3]Holloway, J. (n.d.). Owen, M., Stevenson, J., Hadwin, J. A., Norgate, R. Anxiety and depression in academic performance: An exploration of the mediating factors of worry and working memory. School Psychology International. 2015; 1-17. Jaycox, L.H., Stein, B.D., Paddock, S. et al. Impact of Teen Depression on Academic, Social, and Physical Functioning. Pediatrics. 2009; 124:596-605.  Yousefi, F., Mansor, M.B., Juhari, R.B.,   Redzuan, M., & Talib, M.A. The Relationship between Gender, Age, Depression, and Academic Achievement. Current Research in Psychology. 2010; 1(1): 61-66.


[4] American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. 2015.