New Brunswick students report growing mental health needs in latest wellness survey

New Brunswick students in grades 6 to 12 are facing several challenges related to mental health, according to the most recent results from the New Brunswick Student Wellness Survey. The 2018-2019 edition of the survey is a provincial initiative of the Department of Social Development – Wellness Branch, in co-operation with the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. Data collection and analysis are conducted by the New Brunswick Health Council.

Approximately 30% of all students had a need to talk with someone about a mental or emotional problem in the 12 months before the survey, and 10% of all students reported not getting their needs met. Symptoms of anxiety or depression were also reported by 48% of students who responded to the survey, compared with 40% in the 2015-2016 edition.

“When we look at the reasons the students gave for not speaking with someone, we see definite opportunities for improvement,” said Stéphane Robichaud, the CEO of the New Brunswick Health Council. “More than 20% reported that they did not know where to go for help, and 70% reported that they did not feel comfortable talking about their issue with the services that are available.” 

The survey also captures information on students’ health behaviours, use of drugs and alcohol, tobacco usage including vaping, and their resilience and relationships with family, friends and school. “We see in many communities and schools where there is an emphasis on protective factors and healthy relationships with the community, that this can lead to improvement in many of the negative results among youth,” said Robichaud. “We will be releasing a brief looking at this connection in greater detail shortly.”

The New Brunswick Student Wellness Survey provides highlights of major findings related to key provincial indicators that are considered crucial for monitoring student wellness behaviours and for developing a culture of well-being in our province. The data was collected from 39,000 students of 187 (98%) public schools in New Brunswick. Data was also collected from two First Nations schools to prepare a report specifically to their context.

The NBHC has been established as an independent organization that measures, monitors and evaluates New Brunswick’s health care system performance and population health, and that engages citizens in the improvement of health service quality.  

NBHC Contact:  Frank Vandenburg, 506-869-6728 or frank.vandenburg@nbhc.ca

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