Central Okanagan  

Teen girls struggle in Okanagan

A new report shows that Okanagan teens are making safer choices when it comes to alcohol and driving.

They are also remembering to buckle up more than ever before, but, the same report also says Okanagan girls are more likely than their peers elsewhere in the province to attempt or consider suicide.

The McCreary Centre Society’s 2013 BC Adolescent Health Survey report was conducted in 56 of BC’s 59 school districts, with almost 30,000 students in Grades 7–12 taking part.

Some of the good news coming out of the report is that students in Vernon (SD 22), Central Okanagan (SD 23), Okanagan Similkameen (SD 53), Nicola Similkameen (SD 58), Okanagan Skaha (SD 67) and North Okanagan Shuswap (SD 83) reported good physical and mental health. They also felt connected to their family, school and community; had positive plans for the future; and were engaging in health promoting behaviours which will assist them to transition successfully to adulthood.

The bad news, however, was that the survey also found some concerning differences between our region and the province as a whole, identifying some groups of students who may need additional support.

“It's encouraging to see that youth in the Okanagan are making some really good choices around injury prevention behaviour and substance use compared to students in previous years," says Annie Smith, Executive Director of McCreary. "There are definitely some concerning findings as well, which show us in particular where we need to focus our attention to make sure students, and particularly girls, are getting enough support around their mental health."

The report found that Okanagan girls were more likely than females across BC to have thoughts about suicide (21 per cent vs. 17 per cent provincially) and to have attempted suicide (12 per cent vs. 9 per cent provincially) in the past year. These rates showed an increase from the same study conducted five years ago.

While 80 per cent of the youth in our region rated their mental health as good or excellent, teen boys were more likely than teen girls to be optimistic. Males also reported lower rates of extreme despair, self-harm, suicide ideation, and suicide attempts than females.

Positive findings in the report included a decrease in the percentage of students who were seriously injured in the past year, with a corresponding decrease in drunk driving, and increases in students who engaged in injury prevention behaviour such as seat belt use.

More Okanagan teens were also keeping healthy by eating more of their fruit and vegetables than in previous years and being more likely than those throughout the province to take part in athletics on a weekly basis.

For the full report and further details click here.


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