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Risk of Depression: What is it and why is it important?

Children living in poverty are exposed to challenging situations including violence, illness and death, which others their age have not yet experienced. This can have a huge impact on their mental health, especially on their likelihood of developing disorders such as anxiety, depression and bipolar. By looking at the risk of depression in children, we can identify how they are suffering and use targeted interventions to help improve their mental health.

What is risk of depression?

Depression is a disorder that severely impacts the daily lives of individuals. Although it is considered a mental disorder, it also has a huge effect on someone’s physical health and social interactions. Some of the most common symptoms include being unable to experience pleasure, episodes of irritability, anxiety and fear. Changes in appetite, body weight and sleep patterns can occur also. The causes of depression are complex, ranging from genetics to chemical imbalances, medical problems, culture and stress from ongoing, recent or past events.

One way to measure the risk of depression in children is using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies – Depression Child (CES-DC) test. This involves asking children 20 questions about what they have felt or experienced in the last seven days. These answers are scored on a scale of zero to three and then added up to produce a total score. Overall, a higher total test score indicates a greater risk of depression for a child.

How does it affect our work?

Our programme partner Fairplay is using risk of depression as a key indicator to measure progress of the work we’re co-funding. If you would like to find out more about our partnership project ‘Helping 100 Children At-Risk in Payatas, The Philippines’, please check out our work. Depression is a very life-limiting condition for children to experience at a young age. We hope that, by giving positive opportunities to children living in poverty across the world, we can improve life for those who are most at-risk.


  1. Fairplay For All Foundation (2018) Helping 100 Children At-Risk: How Much does Regular Sport, Nutrition, and Social Groups Improve the Well-being of Children in Payatas? Unpublished.
  2. Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale