Mental health disorders, suicide on the rise among Okanagan students

The survey was conducted by the McCreary Centre Society in 2018

A study conducted by the McCreary Society has revealed an increase in mental health disorders, including suicidal tendencies, among students who attend school in the Okanagan.

According to the study, 24 per cent of Okanagan students surveyed reported having an anxiety disorder or panic attack in 2018, while 19 per cent had depression and three per cent who had post-traumatic stress disorder.

In the past year, 11 per cent of males, 25 per cent of females, and 48 per cent of non-binary youth had cut or injured themselves on purpose without the intention of killing themselves. The study also found that 19 per cent had seriously considered suicide compared to 14 per cent five years earlier. Six per cent of students in the Okanagan had attempted suicide.

Comparable to the province as a whole, 20 per cent of Okanagan youth needed mental health services in the past year, but had not accessed them. This represented a local increase from 12 per cent in 2013.

“At a time when more Okanagan youth are reporting conditions such as anxiety disorder, depression and PTSD, it is concerning that one in five did not get mental health care that they felt they needed. It is particularly worrying that for 62 per cent of the youth who missed out on care, a primary reason was not wanting their parents to know,” said McCreary’s executive director Annie Smith.

Consistent with youth across the province, most Okanagan students rated their overall health and their mental health as good or excellent. However, 81 per cent of Okanagan students who said this, also indicated their overall health had decreased since 2013 and only 70 per cent of students rated their mental health positively, a drop of 10 per cent.

The study surveyed 38,000 young people between the ages of 12 and 19 from 58 of B.C.’s 60 school districts. The data from this survey was taken in 2018 and is conducted every five years.

READ MORE: Okanagan youth drink, smoke and have sex more than anywhere else in B.C.

READ MORE: UBC Okanagan to host Festival of Ideas with BC’s lieutenant governor

Daniel Taylor
Reporter, Kelowna Capital News
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