By Lyonel Doherty
Being a teenager today can be a mental nightmare, according to the results of the 2018 BC Adolescent Health Survey.
Involving more than 38,000 students in Grade 7 to 12, the survey is a real wake-up call to what’s happening to our fragile youth.
Many are struggling with depression, anxiety and mental health problems that never used to be an issue when we were growing up.
Just ask any guidance counsellor in school today – they are run off their feet trying to deal with stressed out kids.
The world is not an easy place to live anymore. Too much greed. Too expensive. Too many expectations. Too much poverty. Too much harmful social media. Too much of everything.
The survey, with a focus on the Okanagan, indicated that many students (one in five) are not getting the mental health care they need.
An alarming 62 per cent of the youth who missed out on care said the primary reason was not wanting their parents to know.
Vaping is another big concern, with nearly 30 per cent of Okanagan students indicating they vaped in the month before they took the survey.
While most Okanagan students rated their overall health as good or excellent, there is an increase in students reporting anxiety disorders (24 per cent vs. 11 per cent in 2013).
In the past year, 11 per cent of males, a quarter of females and half of non-binary (not recognized as male or female) youth had cut or injured themselves on purpose. Nearly 20 per cent had seriously considered suicide and six per cent had actually attempted to kill themselves.
In the past year, Okanagan females were more likely than females across the province to have experienced physical sexual assault (35 per cent) and verbal sexual assault (54 per cent).
On the positive side, Okanagan youth were more likely to meet Canadian physical activity guidelines than five years ago.
Also, the majority of Okanagan students felt connected to their family, and most (75 per cent) had turned to a family member for help in the past year.
Overall, 71 per cent of Okanagan youth felt safe at school, and the majority felt safe in their neighbourhoods.
I certainly would not want to be a teenager in this world . . . or the next (if there is one).
This survey is a constant reminder that we need to support our children more than ever.
Schools need to continually develop programs to address this plea for help. The tide has changed to the point that the three Rs may need to take a back seat to a new social-emotional learning curriculum . . . or crisis.