Male students in Ontario show declines in bullying and fighting, while females show elevated rates of bullying and psychological distress
TORONTO, July 24, 2012
CAMH's OSDUHS Mental Health and Well-Being Report Released Today
TORONTO, July 24, 2012 /CNW/ - An ongoing survey of Ontario students in
grades 7 to 12 conducted for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
(CAMH) shows that while the majority of students have healthy
relationships and report overall good mental and physical health, some
negative trends, especially among girls, have raised concerns.
The 2011 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS) Mental
Health and Well-Being Report released today reveals important trends in
mental and physical health and risk behaviours among Ontario students.
Psychological distress and suicidal ideation
The number of students reporting psychological distress has remained
high at around 34 per cent since tracking began in 1999. "Many of these
students express feelings of unhappiness and depression, anxiety,
social dysfunction, constant stress or loss of sleep," said Dr. Robert
Mann, CAMH Senior Scientist and lead investigator on the study. "What
is concerning in this year's survey is that among female students, this
rate has risen to 43 per cent, up from 36 per cent in the 1999 survey.
Also, girls are reporting distress at a disproportionately high rate
compared to 24 per cent of boys who reported these feelings."
Along with psychological stress and poor body image, suicidal ideation
is a concern among female students. The survey showed that girls report
both contemplating (14 per cent) and attempting suicide (4 per cent) at
twice the rate as the boys surveyed.
Bullying and anti-social behaviour
Bullying behaviours also remain a concern, with 29 per cent of students
- an estimated 288,000 students - reporting being the victim of
bullying while at school. This has not significantly changed since the
first time it was measured in 2003. However, cyber-bullying, a new
measure in the 2011 survey, was reported by one in five students. This
represents an estimated 217,000 students in Ontario.
The positive news is that males report a decline in bullying
victimization, bullying perpetration and fighting in school. Girls
report being twice as likely as boys to be the victim of
cyber-bullying, at 28 per cent versus 15 per cent. A greater percentage
of girls than boys also report being victimized at school, at 31 per
cent versus 26 per cent.
"The bullying rates surrounding girls are troubling," said Dr. David
Wolfe, Director of CAMH's Centre for Prevention Science. "Bullying can
have long-term mental health consequences and can affect self esteem,
and hinder the ability to form healthy relationships. The high rates in
cyber-bullying are also troubling in that young people today are so
technology-driven that bullying now carries over into the home, not
just the school setting."
Overall, students also report a decrease during the past two decades in
anti-social behaviours including vandalism, theft, assaulting others
and carrying a weapon.
Screen time, physical health and gambling
One in 10 students spend at least seven hours per day in front of the
television or computer, and only one in five students engages in the
recommended amount of daily physical activity. Twenty-six per cent of
Ontario students are classified as obese or overweight, with males (30
per cent) significantly more likely to be obese/overweight than females
(21 per cent).
Injuries from motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death
among young people. More than one in four students (28 per cent) report
that they do not always wear a seatbelt when riding in a motor vehicle.
As well, 42 per cent of respondents reported being treated for an
injury at least once in the past year.
Thirty-eight per cent of students say they gamble money at activities
such as card playing, buying lottery tickets and betting in sports
pools, although the survey shows that gambling activity among students
has decreased over the past few years.
The report examined the amount of time students report playing video
games. Twenty-three per cent of students overall (37 per cent of males)
report playing video games daily and 12 per cent of students show
possible indicators of video gaming problems, reporting symptoms of
preoccupation, loss of control, withdrawal, and disruption to family
and school. There has been no significant change in reported video
gaming problems during the past few years.
"We need to keep an eye on how much time our kids spend in front of the
TV and online or playing video games," said Dr. Bruce Ballon, Head of
CAMH's Adolescent Clinical and Educational Services (A.C.E.S.) for
Problem Gambling, Gaming and Internet Use. "Often we see kids engaging
in these behaviours to dissociate from others because there is an
underlying mental health problem that hasn't been diagnosed, such as
depression or social anxiety."
Compared to the provincial average, students in Toronto are more likely to be worried about being threatened or harmed at school; to engage in
no physical activity; and to report a high level of "screen time."
Compared to the provincial average, students in Toronto are less likely to report being cyber-bullied or bullied while at school, and less
likely to report an injury requiring medical care.
Compared to the provincial average, students in Northern Ontario are more likely to report an injury requiring medical care.
Compared to the provincial average, students in Northern Ontario are less likely to be physically inactive.
Compared to the provincial average, students in Eastern Ontario are less likely to be physically inactive, to report a high level of screen time or to
rate their physical health as poor.
Compared to the provincial average, students in Western Ontario are more likely to report being cyber-bullied.
CAMH's Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey is the longest running
school survey of adolescents in Canada. Between October 2010 and June
2011, 9,288 students in grades 7 through 12 from 181 schools across the
province participated in the survey, which was administered in
classrooms by the Institute for Social Research at York University.
Today's report describes mental health, physical health, and risk
behaviours among Ontario students in 2011, as well as changes since
1991 (where possible).
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is a Pan American
Health Organization and World Health Organization Collaborating Centre,
as well as a teaching hospital fully affiliated with the University of