The start of a new school day brings feelings of excitement and anticipation for many students. But for many others, it means yet another day of stress and anxiety. In 2016, Kids Help Phone surveyed over 1,300 teens in Canada between the ages of 13 and 18 using online panels. Some notable findings were that:
– 46% of teens reported body or self-image problems.
– 40% of teens reported that they experience important relationship problems with family or friends within the last 12 months.
– 10% of teens reported that they have experienced bullying.
– 22% of teens reported that they seriously considered suicide in the last 12 months.
Peer support is critical for teens on all these issues. The survey found that over 50% of teens would speak to a personal friend about suicidal thoughts, body or self-image problems, relationship issues or bullying.
The survey found that the leading reasons why teens don’t talk about these issues were: (1) that they don’t think it’s important enough; and (2) that they can take care of it themselves.
In another study done by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), they surveyed over 10,000 Ontario students in Grades 7 to 12 during the 2014-2015 school years. The results showed that 66% of students reported their health as being very good or excellent. However, 34% of students had described feeling moderate to serious psychological distress, which is defined as symptoms of depression and anxiety.
So what are some things parents can do to help students that may be feeling anxious or stressed?
Dr. Jean Clinton, who has been a child psychiatrist for over 25 years was quoted in a news article saying that the key is being present in children’s lives. The way to building influence is by being present. And that daily time helps shape children’s minds and values. Research has shown that the simple act of having a meal at home can positively impact children’s behaviour.
Dr. Corine Carlisle, who is a child and adolescent psychiatrist, has said that young people are always watching adults—perhaps more than listening. And so one of the best things adults can do for young people is to manage their own stress.
One of the main messages from researchers and experts alike is that parents, and society in general, need to recognize that a significant portion of young people are experiencing mental health issues. To find out more about the mental health issues that young people experience and their challenges, we encourage you to visit Kids Help Phone’s website at: kidshelpphone.ca. If a young person you know needs to speak with a counsellor for a private, confidential conversation, Kids Help Phone’s website has a live chat feature or contact numbers to text or have a conversation over the phone.