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The effects of a wilderness survival school on adolescent depression scores

27 July 1993


A review of the literature indicates that the prevalence of depression among adolescents is remarkably high. Depressed adolescents suffer from a wide variety of symptoms and disorders as a result of their depression. Depressive symptoms can be used as an indicator of the general level of mental and at times physical health among adolescents. Wilderness survival schools enjoy a long, almost ancient, history of teaching lessons and learning new experiences in an outdoor setting. The Catherine Freers Survival School (CFSS) uses a combination of active psychosocial interventions including the Coping With Depression Course for Adolescents curriculum material, group interaction, learning survival skills, the natural consequences of the wilderness environment, and a three day solo experience. Students are carefully taught, closely monitored and emotionally supported throughout the CFSS experience. This study measured levels of depressive symptoms using the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) both before and after survival school experience and used a one tailed t test to analyze the results. Results indicate a significant difference in the pre and post survival school BDI scores. This difference was at the .05 level of significance for total group (n=27), male group n=20), and female group (n=7).


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