Combating Youth Depression as a Result of the Pandemic

Dr. Everett Louis, PhD, launches an online resource to support youth experiencing pandemic-related depression.

An online survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that young people between the ages of 18–24 are disproportionately more likely to suffer mental health problems during the COVID-19 pandemic than any age group. To help fight depression in youth — especially as a result of the pandemic — Teacher Education faculty Everett Louis, PhD has launched a collaborative web project, Don’t Forget Yourself, a compilation of mental health resources.

“Leading up to the pandemic,” Dr. Louis wrote, “I was heartbroken to see how many young people struggled with depression and poor self image — some even tragically taking their own lives. As we entered a new life with COVID, it became even more challenging to stay connected to resources and support systems. Social media influence grew, and with that, came a flurry of bad news, negative images and unrealistic expectations set on our youth.”

Dr. Louis is an assistant adjunct professor in the Multiple Subject Teacher Education track at the Kalmanovitz School of Education. He is passionate about K–12 curriculum development and music/art integration, teacher education, and innovative mathematics pedagogy. Dr. Louis writes and produces music for children, educators, parents, and caregivers to bring people together through laughter and storytelling. 

The ultimate goal of Dr. Louis’ project is youth mental health empowerment and increasing self worth to prevent teen suicide. Don’t Forget Yourself is full of resources vetted by his friends and colleagues, including Dr. Suzy Thomas, a professor in KSOE’s Counseling Department and the director of its School Counseling program.

“This website is fantastic,” said Dr. Thomas. “Dr. Louis has compiled a wide range of sources and resources and has presented them in a friendly, inviting, accessible manner. I think the world of Dr. Louis and I enjoy the way in which he mixes ‘head and heart’ in everything he does. This website is presented very well and has a wealth of helpful resources, but it is also a gentle and ‘heartful’ entry into the study of depression and the foundation of mental health. The way he organized the website makes it easy to use, and he included a wide range of links and articles and websites that will keep the readers engaged.”

Dr. Louis has spent over 20 years in academia, working in K–12 California public schools and institutions of higher education. His goal has always been to care for and support new teachers and the students they serve. He developed the content as a resource for those in need. With definitions of mental health terms, links to national and local crisis and trauma resources for youth, and resources for caregivers and teachers, the Don’t Forget Yourself project is Dr. Louis’ hopeful message to A young Dr. Everett Louis with his mother, Betty Louis. youth fighting depression. To honor National Suicide Awareness Week (September 5–11), Dr. Louis and his friend, James Lee, released a song of empowerment on Friday, September 3rd with the same name.

“The song was dedicated to James Lee's mother and my own mother,” said Dr. Louis. “My friend's mother, Hye Sook, suffered from depression and took her own life. My mother, Betty Louis, passed when I was a teen — the impacts of that led me into sadness and a cycle of my own depression for years. James and I made this song and gathered resources thinking about this next [generation] and what impacts the pandemic could have on their mental health.”

“Depression is often a lonely experience,” said Dr. Thomas, “and finding ways to connect with others, to normalize the experience, and to access resources can be both comforting and healing to someone experiencing depression. These days, youth are more likely to begin an outreach process via the Internet, and so I see this website as having a great potential to reach youth in a helpful way.”

Visit our website for more information about the Counseling and Teacher Education programs offered by the Kalmanovitz School of Education.