Adolescents in the Thompson Cariboo Shuswap area are more likely to play sports but an increase in some mental health problems is a cause for concern, according to a survey by the McCreary Centre Society, an organization committed to improving the health of B.C. youth through research, evaluation and community-based projects.
The 2018 BC Adolescent Health Survey was completed by over 38,000 adolescents across all six school districts in the region. Province-wide results were released earlier in 2019.
Respondents in the Thompson Cariboo Shuswap were more likely to participate in weekly informal sports (56 per cent vs 52 per cent across B.C.) and extreme sports (16 per cent vs nine per cent). The society also noted that a decline in organized sports participation across the province did not occur in the Thompson Cariboo Shuswap.
The survey also questioned about adolescents’ mental health and found youth reported far more anxiety disorders/panic attacks than five years ago, increasing from 10 per cent in 2013 to 23 per cent. Youths reported similar increases in depression from 11 per cent to 20 per cent and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from one per cent to four per cent.
The mental health results echo similar results across the province, according to Annie Smith, executive director for the society.
“It was also worrying to see locally that the percentage of students who did not access mental health services they needed rose from around one in 10 students in 2013 to around one in 6 – with particularly high rates among girls and youth who identify as non-binary.”
However, there are also some positives in the Thompson Cariboo Shuswap, according to Smith.
“One thing that stood out is they are more likely than local youth five years earlier and youth across B.C. to feel an adult in their community really cares about them. We know that this can be a real source of support for young people, especially those who might be struggling with their mental health.”
It appeared area students also got in less sleep compared to five years ago when 58 per cent slept eight hours or more the night before compared to 51 per cent in 2018.
Similar to five years ago, 28 percent had engaged in sexual intercourse but withdrawal as a form of contraception increased from five to nine per cent. The percentage of students who felt safe at school, meanwhile, dropped from 77 to 68 over five years.