July 9, 2014 (Toronto) -- An ongoing survey of Ontario students in grades seven to 12 conducted for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) reveals a number of significant behavioural trends, including an alarming number of young people who are texting while driving.
According to the 2013 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS) Mental Health and Well-Being Report, over one-third of licensed Ontario students in grades 10 to 12
– an estimated 108,000
adolescent drivers – report
texting while driving at least once in the past year, with 46 per cent of
licensed students in grade 12 reporting this behaviour.
The OSDUHS is a bi-annual
survey that reveals important trends in mental and physical health and risk
behaviours among Ontario’s
middle and high school students.
Risk behaviours and physical health
Although the majority (65
per cent) of students rate their physical health as excellent or very good,
certain risk behaviours have emerged or increased. Overall, the percentage of
students reporting an injury that required medical treatment significantly
increased from 35 per cent in 2003 to 41 per cent in 2013.
“We asked about texting
while driving because research shows that this is a very hazardous behaviour,” said
Dr. Robert Mann, CAMH Senior Scientist and Principal Investigator. “We were
surprised to find that so many young people are taking this risk.”
Another new indicator in the survey found that up to 79 per cent of bicyclists
in this age group report they do not always wear a helmet and 53 per cent report
rarely or never wearing a helmet.
“The very high rates of
young people who do not always wear helmets while cycling is troubling because
of the potential for very serious injury,” said Dr. Mann.
“We’re learning more
about the association between traumatic brain injuries and mental health issues
in young people and it’s important to get the message out that wearing your
helmet can prevent a whole range of problems,” he said.
Girls more likely to have
low self-esteem and contemplate suicide
proportion of young females indicating poor mental health remains high when
compared to their male counterparts. Overall, 15 per cent of students rated
their mental health as fair to poor, the two lowest categories on a five point
scale, with females being twice as likely to do so.
continue to see that, compared to their male classmates, young females are far
more likely to report higher rates of internalizing mental health problems like
low self-esteem, psychological distress and suicidal ideation,” said Dr. Hayley Hamilton, CAMH
Scientist and Co-Investigator on the OSDUHS.
“Significantly, girls reported
contemplating suicide at twice the rate of the boys surveyed. This disparity is
consistent with past surveys and points to a difference in need that parents,
teachers and care providers should be aware of.”
Not knowing where to find help also emerged as an issue, said Dr. Hamilton.
Twenty-eight per cent – an estimated 288,300 students – reported that, in the
past year, there was a time when they wanted to talk to someone about a mental
health problem, but did not know where to turn. Again, females were twice as
likely as males to report an unmet need for mental health support at 38 per
cent and 19 per cent respectively.
“This is a troubling number, and reflects what we
are seeing in research we are conducting at a national level,” said Dr. Joanna Henderson, Clinical Scientist and Head of
Research in CAMH’s Child, Youth & Family Program.
“We’re learning that
young people need and are looking for a larger scope of mental health services
that may not be readily available. For those who aren’t experiencing a crisis
but want to talk about how they’re doing, building up peer support, school and
community-based programs are good options.”
Home and school life
More than 80 per cent of students visit social media sites daily, with about
one in ten spending five hours or more on these sites daily. One in five
students play video games daily or almost daily with males being almost four
times as likely as females to do so.
1999, more students report that they like school “very much” or “quite a lot,”
increasing from 29 per cent to 44 per cent.
“This is an encouraging shift,” Dr.
Mann said. “It’s important that students feel that school is a positive place
to learn and grow.”
Mann said another positive shift is the decrease in schoolyard bullying with
rates falling from 33 per cent in 2003 to 25 per cent in 2013. Similarly, the
percentage reporting bullying others at school declined over the past decade
from 30 per cent in 2003 to 16 per cent in 2013.
Rates of cyberbullying, did not significantly
change between 2011 (22 per cent), the first year of monitoring, and 2013 (19
positive finding was that students also reported a decrease in antisocial
behaviour and physical fighting at school.
About the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey:
CAMH's Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS) is the longest
running school survey of adolescents in Canada, and one of the longest in the
world. During the 2012-2013 school year, 10,272 students from across Ontario in
grades seven to 12 participated in the survey, administered on behalf of CAMH by
the Institute for Social Research at York University. The OSDUHS Mental Health and Well-Being Report describes mental health,
physical health, and risk behaviours among Ontario students in 2013, as well as
changes since 1991 (where possible).
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest
mental health and addiction teaching hospital, and one of the world's leading
research centres in its field. CAMH combines clinical care, research,
education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives
of people affected by mental health and addiction issues. CAMH is fully
affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American
Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre.
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
416 535-8501 ext. 36015