More students report feeling depressed

Ashley
Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Survey asks about mental health

In the year before they anonymously responded to the province’s latest Student Drug Use Survey, roughly one out of every six of the junior high and high school students polled seriously considered suicide.

The drug use survey was administered in 2012 and included questions on mental health.

A total of 2,530 students from across the province took the survey which included test questions to weed out blatantly untruthful responses.

According to the results released Wednesday, 14.1 per cent of students had made plans for suicide attempts. Another 8.4 per cent reported actually attempting suicide.

Questions on a similar survey, in 2007, found almost 20 per cent of students had “somewhat elevated depressive symptoms,” with 4.5 per cent having “very elevated depressive symptoms.”

Those numbers nearly doubled in the results from the 2012 survey. “Based on a screening tool, significantly more students were determined to have ‘very elevated’ depressive symptoms (8.4 per cent) when compared to 2007,” notes a government report on the survey results.

More significantly, the numbers may reflect an increased awareness of depression, mental health and a reduced stigma around discussion of the topics. Student Drug Use Survey

The numbers do not necessarily reflect a greater rate of depression among students in Newfoundland and Labrador. For one, depression is a clinical diagnosis and the survey asks only about feelings of depression.

More significantly, the numbers may reflect an increased awareness of depression, mental health and a reduced stigma around discussion of the topics.

In the same period as the increased reports of feelings of depression among young people, among its health-care investments, the provincial government has moved ahead with construction of a new youth mental-health centre in Paradise.

The centre, along with a youth additions treatment facility in Grand Falls-Windsor, is expected to open in 2014.

afitzpatrick@thetelegram.com

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Grand Falls-Windsor

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