‘Sad and hopeless’: students report struggles with mental health

Nearly half of Prince Albert area students report feeling “sad and hopeless,” according to a survey, while 17 per cent say they’ve considered taking their own lives.

The data comes from the SAYCW Youth Health Survey, a questionnaire given to nearly 9,000 students in grades 7 to 12 across Saskatchewan in 2015. In a multi-part series, the Herald is digging into the previously unreleased answers of students within the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region.

Across the region, about 2,000 students answered questions on their mental health. The Saskatchewan Rivers School Division participated in the survey, while the Prince Albert Catholic School Division declined.

The survey did not include any tools to diagnose students for depression. But it asked them a direct question: have you felt so sad or hopeless that you stopped your regular activities for a while?

Forty-six per cent of students in the health region said yes.

Jennifer Suchorab, manager of Mental Health Outpatient Services at the health region’s Mental Health Centre, said mood disorders like depression are common problems for youth. She said there’s been a “continued increase” in demand for the centre’s services. For Suchorab, the results didn’t come as a shock.

“Although upsetting, they’re not surprising,” she said.

On most questions, the data are close to the provincial average. The survey suggests that students in the health region actually feel slightly better about themselves. About 18 per cent scored low on a self-esteem scale, compared to 22 per cent for Saskatchewan as a whole.

Seventeen per cent of students in the health region said they’ve considered suicide in the past year. Eleven per cent, the same as in Saskatchewan overall, said they’ve actually tried to kill themselves.

For more on this story, see the June 7 print or e-edition of the Daily Herald.