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Some kids at greater risk of depression, anxiety in summer

TUCSON — For many kids in Southern Arizona, the school bell rang for the final time this week.

For some, being out of school can be detrimental to their mental health.

“It’s a time to kick back and not have the normal pressures that seem to be in place during the school year,” said Sonora Behavioral Health therapist Diane Ryan. “For our teens today it creates additional pressures rather than removing those pressures, partly because when I was young I was told to go out and play.”

Ryan argues summertime for some kids means more time on their phones and social media, which can lead to a loss of structure. In turn, this can lead to depression and anxiety.

“The structure is really helpful to try to maintain a sense of groundedness and make sense of the day,” she said. “And if you don’t have that which you don’t have in the summer the tendency is to turn to things to fill up the structure and unfortunately those are things that are not healthy: substance abuse, bad sleeping habits, and particularly social media.”

Ryan believes getting outdoors is a prescription for your health.

“The connection to nature is healing in and of itself,” Ryan said. “A beautiful tree, a patch of grass, there are beautiful flowers around Tucson. Tucson has a wonderful wealth of parks so there usually is an outdoor space that’s available to people I’m just not sure that culturally we’re in the habit of accessing that space.”

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