All Posts Tagged With: "student health"
This professor is troubled by a lack of resilience
A new report about the state of health among Canadian university students has prompted the usual hand-wringing in the media. The Montreal Gazette, for instance, calls the findings “troubling” and “grim” and notes that many university students feel overwhelmed, anxious, and in some cases, suicidal.
Even without seeing the report, one might be skeptical of such reactions. After all, take any large survey of people and you are going to find some who are having a rough go of it. And given that university students tend to be younger, experiencing big life transitions, and under pressure to perform at a high level, a certain number of cracks in the foundation are to be expected.
But when I looked at the statistics for myself, I too was troubled. Just not for the reasons that everyone else is. I was struck not by how many students are having difficulty, but, rather, by how many of them are not.
Analyzing the biggest-ever Canadian student health survey
The results of the biggest-ever survey of Canadian post-secondary student health show that most students are stressed, anxious and drink alcohol, but they’re not having nearly as much sex or doing as many drugs as one might expect.
Those are the conclusions that jump out from the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services report released today. A total of 34,039 students from 32 schools filled out the National College Health Assessment II Spring 2013, which is the basis of the report. The response rate was an impressive 20 per cent.
Drinking is students’ most common vice. In the previous 30 days, 71 per cent of students reported drinking alcohol at least once.
However, the vast majority avoided other drugs: only 12 per cent smoked a cigarette, 16 per cent used marijuana and 11 per cent consumed other drugs. That was despite eight in 10 students “perceiving” that the “typical student” at their school had used marijuana and cigarettes.
Addition to Vancouver campus a North American first
The University of British Columbia has unveiled the first campus skatepark in North America. “Key park features include an open snake-run bowl, a cantilevered quarterpipe, an angled slappy bank, and stair set, complete with handrail and ledge,” says the press release. The addition to the Vancouver campus gives new meaning to the words ‘hitting the books,’ since it’s built on a stack of metal and concrete tomes engraved with words from Vincent van Gogh. There’s also a gnarly sustainable stormwater management system to hydrate nearby plants. Click below for a closer look.
Young drinkers show worrisome cellular changes
You already know that binge drinking is bad for your brain and perhaps your reputation (if you’re prone to beer goggles), but here’s another reason to abstain. A new study shows immediate changes in blood circulation among binge drinkers aged 18 to 25 that resemble what older people with cardiovascular diseases experience, suggesting an increased risk of heart attacks or strokes later in life. U.S. researchers looked at two groups of healthy nonsmoking college students with mostly similar backgrounds. One group had a history of binge drinking (five or more standard drinks in the space of two hours) and the other group shunned alcohol altogether. The binge drinkers had impaired function in the endothelium and smooth muscle cells, which are needed for proper blood flow. The study is to be published online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Up to 11 per cent of students may take brain boosting meds
Doctors should think twice about prescribing drugs like Ritalin and Adderall used to treat attention deficit disorder to healthy individuals seeking to boost their brain power, says an article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
The authors say prescription stimulants are used by some people for cognitive enhancement in the absence of any medical need.
“These would be any types of medications that would help people enhance their concentration, memory, cognitive function in general, when they don’t necessarily have any type of symptom or illness to be treated with these medications,” said lead author Cynthia Forlini, a PhD candidate in neuroethics at McGill University.
“So we’re talking about healthy individuals who are approaching their doctors for some kind of an edge in their performance,” she said Monday from Montreal.
Anxiety and depression need to be reclassified
Lately, we’ve been hearing a lot about efforts to improve the services available to students related to their psychological well-being on campuses. University presidents met for a workshop recently, and Queen’s University welcomed a new $1-million chair to study stigma.
Now, I am no mental health professional but I do know a few things about universities and have some experience with anxiety and depression.
If it were up to me, those trying to improve things on Canadian campuses would keep one crucial principle in mind: be careful how you talk about it.
First, let’s call depression and anxiety something other than “mental illness.”
Research shows links to mental illness, lung capacity
When sociologist and drug-policy expert Andy Hathaway surveyed one of his first-year classes at the University of Guelph last fall, 80 per cent of students reported experience with cannabis.
Hathaway cautions that it was only a small pilot study (around 100 responses), and it took place at Guelph, which is, let’s face it, “a bit granola.”
Still, that 80 per cent figure isn’t surprising.
When twelfth graders are asked if they’ve tried marijuana, roughly half say yes.
Provincial rates of lifetime usage now range from a low of 40 per cent of Albertan twelfth-graders to a high of 63 per cent of those in Nova Scotia, according to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse. And that’s before university.
Universities are “perfect incubators” for mental illness
From the 21st Maclean’s University Rankings—on newsstands now. Story by Shanda Deziel.
Jonathan P. describes his second year at the University of British Columbia as “very, very rough.” He had five intensive reading and writing courses in international relations, plus volunteering commitments. But as an overachiever, he felt “on top of his game.” When he fell behind at week five, the Quebec City native decided he needed to work harder. “The obvious solution, to me,” says Jonathan, 21 at the time, “was to spend less time with friends, less time doing fun stuff, and study, study, study.” By week 10, as assignments piled up, he was sleeping three hours a night. “I woke up one morning,” he says, “and I just didn’t have any taste for my studies and every day looked like it would pretty much never end.” He would call home crying. When he told his stepmom he wasn’t eating, she urged him to go to a doctor, who prescribed sleeping pills that got him through the semester. “When I was home for Christmas,” he says, “just the thought of going back to UBC, I was like, ‘Hell, no. This is not happening.’ ”
14 per cent of Ontario teens report being in poor physical health
Contemporary Ontario teens seem to feel they are in worse shape, health-wise, than their counterparts of nearly 20 years ago, a new report reveals. The latest iteration of the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey found that 14 per cent of teens in Grades 7 to 12 reported in 2009 that they were in poor physical health, up from six per cent in 1991.
Problems reported included the fact that about a quarter of the nearly 250,000 students surveyed were overweight or obese (based on body mass index calculations), about 30 per cent reported experiencing depression and anxiety and 10 per cent said they spend at least seven hours a day in front of a TV and-or computer screen. “All these factors seem to be contributing to the overall poor health of our students,” observed Dr. Robert Mann, lead investigator on the study. “There is a definite connection between physical well-being and mental health. Students need to be encouraged to live healthy, balanced lifestyles and be monitored for unhealthy behaviours.”
Mann is a senior scientist at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), which conducts the survey. The Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey is the longest running school survey of adolescents in Canada. This year’s survey findings showed that about 34 per cent of the students had not seen a doctor in the past year, not even for an annual checkup.
Forty-three per cent of students engaged in gambling activities like playing cards, buying lottery tickets or betting in sports pools, although such behaviours among survey participants are actually down in recent years. Screen-time and video gaming issues raised some red flags. Twenty per cent of students report playing video games daily and 10 per cent of students reported symptoms associated with video gaming problems –preoccupation, loss of control, withdrawal and disruption to family and school, a release on the survey findings stated.
“These trends in behaviour are concerning and should be monitored by schools and at home,” said Dr. Bruce Ballon, head of CAMH’s adolescent clinical and educational services for problem gambling, gaming and Internet use. “The fact that so may kids are engaging in this behaviour at such a young age can be an indicator for risk for problematic gambling and other harmful behaviour patterns as they get older.”
The Canadian Press