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Combating Seasonal Depression

  • Joanna
  • November 29, 2021

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), commonly referred to as seasonal depression, is common among teens around this time of year.

According to an article for Los Angeles Times High School Insider, “The symptoms of SAD are the same as those of depression and include loss of interest in activities you enjoy, moodiness, fatigue, feelings of hopelessness, changes in appetite and sleep, and thoughts of suicide.”

image depicting seasonal affective disorder in man

These symptoms can have a significant impact on students’ mental health and school performance. Fortunately, the treatment for seasonal affective disorder is similar to treatment for depression. People struggling with this disorder may benefit from light therapy, talk therapy, and medication, according to

As a school administrator, you’re probably wondering what you can do to help students who are struggling with seasonal depression. After all, the condition is “linked to a biochemical imbalance in the brain prompted by shorter daylight hours and less sunlight in winter,” and you can’t control when the sun rises and sets (

Unfortunately, mental health is a common dropout risk factor, and if we don’t support our students during the darkest time of the year, they may not be in class when things start to brighten up.

There are a few things you can do to prevent seasonal depression from overwhelming your students, including:

  • Getting them connected with community mental health resources
  • Encouraging them to stay active during the winter months
  • Making sure they maintain a routine, even with winter break coming up in a few weeks

While you’re doing everything you can to help students have a smooth break in routine and return to school, there are going to be some students who don’t return in January due to mental health struggles or other challenges.

Last month, we shared some tips for preparing your students and staff for winter break.
Did you update your students’ emergency contact information before winter break? If so, you’re one step closer to getting lost students back to school. Reach out to their emergency contacts and make sure everything is okay.

Unfortunately, most schools don’t have the personnel to reach out to every emergency contact for every student who is struggling with attendance or doesn’t return after breaks. Graduation Alliance can increase your staff virtually without overburdening your team.

How Can Graduation Alliance Help Bring Back Students?

Managing the students and staff who are actually in your building is hard enough. Tracking down lost students can feel overwhelming. Our Dropout Recovery program deploys a multi-channel outreach strategy to find your students and get them back on a path to graduation.

  • Our team of re-engagement experts uses email, text, phone, social media, and direct mail to track down students through their emergency contacts.
  • Once a student is accounted for, we work with them to remove any academic or social-emotional barriers preventing them from engaging with school and build them a personalized education plan.
  • Students remain enrolled at your district but take classes 100% online through Graduation Alliance if the traditional in-person classroom doesn’t work for them.
  • Once students complete their high school requirements, they’ll graduate with their peers!

Students don’t have to be totally disengaged to participate in a Graduation Alliance program, either. If there are students in your school who are struggling with personal challenges — like anxiety or depression — who you think could benefit from an online alternative program, you can refer them to the program, and we’ll work with them to create personalized education plans that work with their unique circumstances.

Plus, students have a personalized support team to help them not only get back on track but also stay on track.

Everybody involved with the program is INVOLVED. There was never a moment when I didn’t think I could reach out for help. I genuinely felt the impact of the information they taught in this program. I love and continue to love every second during my involvement with Graduation Alliance.

— Gabriel N., Washington Student

What Does a Personalized Support Team Look Like?

Students have three main support figures through Graduation Alliance programs:

  • Teachers: Teachers help students with their coursework and provide individualized feedback on assignments to help them master course content. Highly qualified teachers are at the head of each of our courses, and all of them have years of experience working with at-risk students.
  • Academic Coaches: Academic Coaches help students build their class schedules and monitor their pace and progress so they can stay on track to graduation. They’re students’ biggest cheerleaders and encourage them to keep going — even when they feel like giving up.
  • Local Advocates: Local Advocates are local to students’ communities and provide in-person social-emotional support. They connect students with community resources and organize meetups where students work on homework and connect with other students in the Graduation Alliance program.

In addition to this multi-tiered system of supports, they’ll also have access to 24/7 virtual tutoring services, an internet-enabled laptop, and a course catalog with 100+ core and elective courses, including 26 ACE credit recommendations and 25+ NCAA-approved classes.

When it comes to getting students back on track to graduation, every second counts. Graduation Alliance courses start every business day, meaning students can get started within 24 hours of connecting with us.

Plan ahead for the spring semester now by requesting more information! Partnering with Graduation Alliance can increase your staff, programs, and engagement — all with the goal of getting students back on track to graduation.