New report reveals status of student mental health in Ontario

A new survey shows an increase in psychological distress in Ontario’s students.

The 2017 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health (OSDUHS) Mental Health and Well-being Report reveals that psychological distress – which refers to symptoms of anxiety or depression – has been rising steadily among all Ontario students in Grades 7 to 12 since it was first monitored in 2013. The survey results also found that more than 50 per cent of female students in Ontario show signs of moderate to serious psychological distress.

Other highlights from the 2017 report include:

  • Technology and social media use have also increased. In total, 20 per cent of students spend five or more hours on social media a day, compared to 11 per cent in 2013.
  • Nearly one-third (30 per cent) spent five or more hours a day, in their free time, on electronic devices such as smartphones, laptops, computers and gaming consoles.
  • Five per cent of secondary school students reported symptoms suggesting they had a serious problem with use of technology.
  • Students were asked about concussions for the first time. A total of 36 per cent of students say they’ve had a concussion in their lifetime, and 15 per cent – about 130,700 students – experienced a concussion in the past year.
  • Nearly one-third said they wanted to talk to someone about their mental health, but did not know where to turn. Almost four in 10 said that they rarely or never talk to their parents about their problems or feelings.

The 2017 OSDUHS, which surveyed 11,435 students, is Canada’s longest-running study of mental health and substance use of Ontario students in grades 7 through 12. The OSDUHS drug use report was released in January, and the Mental Health and Well-being Report released this week. Both reports can be found on the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health website.

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