Faculty of Education

Faculty of Education
Faculty of Education

Mental Health is a Primary Concern for Canadian Youth

A major study co-authored by Dr. John Freeman, Director of the Social Program Evaluation Group, shows that mental health is gendered and a primary concern for Canadian youth.

Three children smiling.

The study is the national report on Canadian findings from the 2009/10 cycle of the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Study, which surveyed 26,078 young Canadians aged 11 to 15 from 436 schools. The Faculty of Education contributors to the report are Dr. John Freeman, Mr. Matthew King, and Dr. Don Klinger.

The key findings of the study are that girls report higher levels of emotional problems and lower levels of emotional well-being and life satisfaction, while boys tend to experience more behavioural problems and demonstrate less pro-social behaviour.

The study emphasizes the importance of home, school, peers and neighbourhood in the lives of young people. It also shows that the varying interpersonal relationships may be critical for adolescent mental health. Other key findings include:

  • the overall proportion of youth feeling understood by their parents today is higher than in previous years
  • more boys than girls are physically active for an hour a day
  • more boys see themselves as too thin, while more girls see themselves as too fat
  • 40% of boys & 37% of girls report using cannabis at least once
  • Students who report both bullying others and being bullied report poorer mental health
  • Adolescents’ consumption of healthy food is improving<

Key Findings

  1. Mental health is gendered & interventions must be gender-specific
  2. Girls report higher levels of emotional problems, and boys tend to experience more behavioural problems
  3. Interpersonal relationships play a key role in the mental health of youth

Further Information: Social Program Evaluation Group