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One-in-10 Ontario students reports poor mental health.

One-in-10 Ontario students in grades 7-12 reports poor mental health, according to a survey by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (Toronto). The 2005 OSDUS Mental Health and Well-Being also states that one-in-12 students (representing 86,200), report multiple problems including psychological distress, hazardous drinking, drug problems and delinquent behaviour. About 12% of students visited a mental health professional at least once during the past 12 months.

Contrary to popular opinion, the report indicates that over the past decade, violent and other delinquent behaviours have declined. For example, reports of weapon carrying declined between 1993 (16%) and 2005 (9%). The 2005 data shows that the least reported delinquent activity was carrying a handgun (2%). Vandalism is the most reported activity (15%).

For the first time this annual survey included questions on starting fires. The report supports the concerns of the fire services in Canada. Approximately 27% of the students surveyed reported setting something on fire that they were not supposed to at least once during the previous 12 months before the survey. This is the first Canadian report on improper fire making activity by young people.

The report also indicates that 11% of youth students surveyed seriously considered suicide during the 12 months before the survey was done. This rate was higher among girls (16%) than boys (7%).

The survey also reveals "surprising numbers" on the prevalence of gambling among the students. The percentage of all students that played cards for money increased between 2003 (24%) and 2005 (33%). About 4% are at risk for a gambling problem.

Reports on bullying were another surprise to the researchers. About 31% of all students had been bullied. The main form of bullying reported was verbal abuse (25%), while 4% were bullied physically and 2% were victims of theft/vandalism. Approximately 27% of all students report bullying other students.

The study also found that low parental supervision and a poor relationship with parents are related to most outcomes, including emotional and behavioural difficulties. Other highlights from this survey include:

* about 10% report low self esteem, more with females than males,

* about 5% are at elevated risk for depression, a rate that has been stable between 1997 and 2005,

* about 2% have called a telephone crisis helpline at least once in the past 12 months to talk to someone about a problem.

The report is based on a sample of the 114,000 students in grades 7-12. Authors of the report are: Dr. Edward Adlaf, Research Scientist, CAMH and Associate Professor, Department of Public Health Sciences and Psychiatry, University of Toronto; research analyst Angela Paglia-Boak, and CAMH's Drs. Joe Beitchman and David Wolfe.
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Publication:Community Action
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:May 22, 2006
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