By Julianne Fox
New results from an ongoing Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) survey show about 230,000 Ontarians seriously thought about committing suicide last year.
The result, based on 3,021 respondents 18 years and older, is a new finding in the ongoing survey introduced in 1977 and has data until 2013.
The survey also estimated a significant percentage increase of poor mental health since 2003. The results rocketed to 7.1 per cent from 4.7 per cent. But among the age group 18 to 29 years, the increase was more dramatic, to 12 per cent in 2013 from 3 per cent in 2009.
Humber Director of Student Access, Wellness and Development Meg Houghton said mental health sparked a huge conversation in post-secondary schools right now.
“Anxiety and depression are on the rise among post-secondary students,” said Houghton. “Post-secondary is a social determinant of health.”
Houghton said from a public health perspective it is really concerning because mental health issues affect students’ abilities to be successful.
She said 18 to 29 year olds are highly susceptible to pressure involving performance, more so than previous generations.
“The age group has a little bit less in the way of resiliency than previous generations also,” said Houghton. College and university students grew up with a lot of constant communication with their parents.
As an example, Houghton said when a student receives their first mark in post-secondary it can be a real shock.
Although results from the CAMH survey show an increase in those who identify as having poor mental health, Houghton said it is positive to be seeing the stigma being beat.
Houghton said there is an “increase of people coming to student services.” People are talking more about mental health than in the past. “There once may not have been such questions even reported in a survey.”
Houghton said students are more aware of the support available to them than ever before.
She said Humber would be joining the National College Health Assessment survey in 2016. Universities and colleges in Canada will be facilitating a survey every three years to better collect information on mental health. She hopes the survey will help better collect empirical evidence.