One-in-Ten Ontario Students Reports Poor Mental Health

May 2, 2006/CNW/

- Released today by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), the 2005 OSDUS Mental Health and Well-Being Report shows that about 11% of students surveyed (representing about 114,000 Ontario youth in grades 7 to 12) report that they seriously considered suicide during the 12 months before the survey. This proportion is significantly higher among girls (at 16%) than boys (7%). One-in-twelve 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.

This survey also revealed surprising numbers on the prevalence of both gambling and bullying amongst Ontario students from grades 7-12:

- The percentage of all students that played cards for money significantly increased between 2003 (24%) and 2005 (33%).
- About 4% (approximately 45,800 students) are at risk for a gambling problem.
- About one-third (31%) of all students had been bullied since September. The most prevalent form of bullying reported was verbal abuse (25%), while 4% were primarily bullied physically and 2% were victims of theft/vandalism.
- Approximately 27% of all students report bullying other students.

Dr. Edward Adlaf, Research Scientist at CAMH and Associate Professor, Department of Public Health Sciences and Psychiatry, University of Toronto, co-authored this important study with research analyst Angela Paglia-Boak, and CAMH's Drs. Joe Beitchman and David Wolfe.

Said Dr. Adlaf, "given the increased activity of poker playing generally, it is not surprising to find an increase in card playing among students.

Fortunately at the moment, this increase has not resulted in increases in heavy gambling activity nor in gambling problems, although, for some, future gambling problems are likely."

This study, which is the first Canadian study to probe fire setting among students, revealed that approximately 27% of students reported setting something on fire that they weren't supposed to at least once during the 12 months before the survey. Moreover, 14% set something on fire three or more times. Males were significantly more likely to set something on fire compared to females.

Said Dr. Sherri Mackay, Provincial Director, TAPP-C (The Arson Prevention Program for Children) Program and CAMH Psychologist, Child, Youth, and Family Program, "This new data support the concerns voiced by fire service and mental health professionals that a substantial minority of youth are experimenting with fire on a frequent basis." TAPP-C is an intervention program, operating in over 50 communities throughout the province, designed to reduce fire setting and other fire involvement, and promote fire safety among children from 2 to 16 years of age.

The study also found that low parental supervision and a poor relationship with parents are related to most outcomes, including emotional and behavioural difficulties. Dr. David Wolfe, RBC Investments Chair in Children's Mental Health and Development Psychopathology at CAMH says, "These findings emphasize the importance of parents being informed about the challenges faced by teens, and the need to take an active role in guiding and monitoring their adolescent's behavior."

Other highlights from this survey include:

- About 10% report low self esteem, with females more likely to do so than males (11% vs. 8%).
- About 5% of students are at elevated risk for depression. This number remained stable between 1997 and 2005.
- Over the past decade, violent and other delinquent behaviours have declined. For example, reports of weapon carrying declined between 1993 (16%) and 2005 (9%).
- New 2005 data show that the least reported delinquent activity was carrying a handgun (2%), whereas vandalism is the most reported activity (15%)
- New 2005 data show that about 2% of students have called a telephone crisis helpline at least once in the past 12 months to talk to someone about a problem.

Dr. Joseph Beitchman, TD Bank Financial Group Chair in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Clinical Director of the Child Youth and Family Program at CAMH, notes that, "By reaching out to the significant minority of students involved in aggressive behaviours, we may also be able to address issues of psychological distress and suicidal thoughts reported by large numbers of students."

CAMH provides treatment services and has implemented a number of clinical, educational, research and program development initiatives for adolescents with addiction and/or mental health issues. A list of these initiatives and the executive summary of the mental health report is available at:

CAMH's Ontario Student Drug Use Survey (OSDUS) is the longest running school survey of adolescents in Canada. In the spring of 2005, 7,726 students in grades 7 to 12 participated in the survey administered by the Institute for Social Research, York University. The 2005 OSDUS Mental Health and Well-Being Report describes the physical and mental health of students in 2005 and changes since 1991. This report is a companion document to the report Drug Use Among Ontario Students, 1977-2005. CAMH released the results of the drug use survey in the fall of 2005.
A copy of the 2005 OSDUS Mental Health and Well-Being Report is available at:

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is a specialized teaching hospital fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is the largest mental health and addiction facility in Canada. CAMH is also a Pan American Health Organization and a World Health Organization Collaborating

For further information: or to schedule interviews with survey investigators, please contact:
Michael Torres,
Media Relations Coordinator, CAMH, at:
(416) 595-6015.

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