TORONTO, July 9, 2014 /CNW/ - An ongoing survey of Ontario students in
grades 7 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
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
The 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
"We 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
"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.
Since 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."
Dr. 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 per
Another 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 7 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. For more information, please visit www.camh.ca.
SOURCE: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
For further information:
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
416 535-8501 ext. 36015