The 2021-2022 edition of the New Brunswick Student Wellness Survey was completed by 42,000 students in grades 6 to 12 between November 2021 and January 2022. Students were asked questions about their social and emotional development, physical health, substance use, and experiences at school and in the community.
The results were released in May 2022.
Indicators of student mental health are trending in the wrong direction.
The proportion of students in grades 6 to 12 who reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression has increased. In 2021-2022, 47.8% of students reported symptoms of anxiety, up from 32.6% since 2015-2016. Likewise, 41.7% of students reported symptoms of depression compared to 31.2% in 2015-2016.
Few students follow the recommendations from the 24-Hour Movement Guidelines.
Students in grades 6 to 12 continued to get insufficient amounts of sleep and physical activity, and to have too much leisure screen time. In 2021-2022, 30.2% of students reported they usually have the recommended 8 hours or more of sleep each night and 22.2% of students had the recommended amount of daily moderate or vigorous physical activity. Conversely, 85.5% of students exceeded the recommended daily limit of 2 hours of leisure screen time.
Students who identify as non-binary, Two-Spirit, and all other gender non-conforming identities, hereinafter referred to as “non-binary students”, report poorer mental and physical health outcomes than their peers.
The NBHC uses the term “non-binary” as an umbrella term to refer to individuals who self-reported their gender as neither exclusively man/ boy or woman/ girl, following Statistics Canada’s Classification of Gender. However, the NBHC acknowledges that not all individuals who were included in the non-binary category classification in its data use this term to describe their own gender identity.
In 2021-2022, non-binary students in grades 6 to 12 reported poor mental health outcomes. The percentage of non-binary students who rated their mental health as very good or excellent was 7.4%, compared to 40.2% of students who identified as boys or girls. Further, 86.0% of non-binary students reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression in the 12 months prior to the survey.
This demographic group also reported poor physical health outcomes. Only 24.4% of non-binary students rated their health as very good or excellent, whereas 56.6% of those who identified as boys or girls gave the same rating. Likewise, considerably fewer non-binary students reported getting sufficient sleep (14.3% compared to 31.1%) and having the recommended amount of daily moderate or vigorous physical activity (11.9% compared to 22.7%).
Smoking, as well as alcohol and cannabis consumption, among students has decreased.
The percentage of students in grades 6 to 12 smoking daily or occasionally was reduced by half: from 13.6% in 2018-2019 to 6.2% in 2021-2022. Additionally, 17.8% of students reported drinking alcohol regularly (down from 24.0%), and 15.9% reported having used cannabis in the 12 months prior to the survey (down from 20.8%)
Explore the data tables below to learn more about the demographics of students in New Brunswick, as well as their social and emotional development, physical health, substance use behaviours, and their engagement in their schools and communities.