New data suggests COVID-19 has accelerated the decline in mental health among young Canadians. (Black Press Media File)

New data suggests COVID-19 has accelerated the decline in mental health among young Canadians. (Black Press Media File)

Report finds COVID-19 accelerated declining mental health of Canadian youth

Canadians aged 15 to 30 drink more heavily and smoke more cannabis than older counterparts

New data suggests COVID-19 has accelerated the decline in mental health among young Canadians.

According to a newly-released Statistics Canada report, less than half, or 40 per cent, of youth aged 15 to 30 reported excellent or very good mental health in summer 2020. The effects of physical distancing appear especially negative on youth according to the report, as they were the most likely group to report a negative impact on their mental health since the start of such measures. Seniors were the least likely group to do so, it adds.

These findings confirm a broader trend that started less than a decade ago, when young Canadians reported more positive mental health than their older counterparts. Nearly three out of four females (74 per cent) aged 15 to 30 reported excellent or very good mental health in 2011-2012, compared to 69 per cent of females aged 47 and older. By 2019, woman aged 47 and older reported the same level of mental health compared to 2011-2012, while the number of young females reporting excellent or very good mental health had dropped to 54 per cent.

RELATED: COVID-19 has depressed mental health of Canadian youth

RELATED: Household size, employment key factors in pandemic mental health among Canadians: survey

The health of young Canadians has also declined in other ways. While the number of Canadian youth smoking cigarettes has dropped into single digits, eight per cent for males and six per cent for females in 2019, Canadians aged 15 to 30 drink more heavily and smoke more cannabis than their older counterparts. Obesity rates have also risen, albeit slightly, 9.6 per cent to 11.8 per cent for males and from seven to 11.7 per cent for females, between 2001 and 2019.

Overall, the report concludes that Canadians aged 15 to 30 are less obese, more active and smoke less than older Canadians now, but more obese and less active than Canadian youth 20 years ago.

The report also finds a sociological cleavage among youth. Canadian youth who fall into the category of White Canadians are more likely to drink heavily and smoke cannabis than Canadian youth who fall into a group that qualifies as a visible minority. Behaviour damaging to health such as smoking is also higher among youth living in low-income households.

“Young Canadians belonging to a group designated as a visible minority smoke less and have lower obesity rates than White Canadians,” the report reads. But youth belonging to a group designated as a visible minority also spend less time doing active recreational activities and eat fewer fruits and vegetables than White Canadians.


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(File photo)
PQB crime report: Thieves pilfer trailer, camera, tools, cigarettes and cleaning supplies

Parksville, Nanoose Bay feature prominently among 226 complaints to Oceanside RCMP

Mary Ellen Campbell, president of the Parksville Museum, visits the PQB News/VI Free Daily studio. (Peter McCully photo)
PQBeat: A chat with Parksville Museum president Mary Ellen Campbell

Podcast: Talk includes plans for 2021, dealing with COVID-19 and more

Eaglecrest Golf Club plans to operate as a nine-hole course starting April 1. (Eaglecrest Facebook photo)
Eaglecrest Golf Club in Qualicum Beach still plans to have course layout reduced to 9 holes

Town council continues to negotiate lease for 18-hole operation

A rendering of a proposed housing development located across from the beachfront in Qualicum Beach. (Submitted photo)
Multi-residential development planned across from Qualicum Beach waterfront

Residents raise variety of concerns about project

Proprietor of Sweet Truck, Morgan Ray, as she hands off her baked goods to a customer. (Photo courtesy of Avrinder Dhillon Photography)
COVID-19: Qualicum Beach baker eyes move back from food truck to bricks and mortar

Storefront offers more stability amid growth in sales: Ray

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 vaccination set to start for B.C. seniors aged 80-plus

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hills using a homemade trip camera. Vancouver Island is home to approximately 800 cougars, which makes up about a quarter of the total population in B.C. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hill using a homemade trip camera. Schroyen presents Animal Signs: The Essence of Animal Communication on Nov. 30. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Declining Vancouver Island cougar populations linked to wolves

Large carnivore specialist says human development still plays biggest role on cougar numbers

Police have identified the vehicle involved in the Feb. 14 hit-and-run in Chemainus and are continuing to investigate. (Black Press Media files)
Police seize and identify suspect vehicle in hit-and-run

Investigation into death expected to be lengthy and involved

(Black Press file photo)
Child in critical condition, homicide investigators probe incident near Agassiz

The child was transported to hospital but is not expected to survive

Sewage plant in Lower Mainland, operated by Metro Vancouver. (Metro Vancouver screenshot)
‘Poop tracker’ launches as researchers test Lower Mainland sewage water for COVID-19

‘Studying the virus in wastewater allows researchers to look at an entire population…’

This poster, spreading misinformation regarding COVID-19 restrictions, has been popping up in communities across Vancouver Island.
Poster popping up in Island communities falsely claiming COVID restrictions are over

Unattributed poster claims COVID restrictions ended March 1

(Pxhere)
Compensation fund opens for B.C. students negatively affected by incorrect exam marks

Marks for 2019 provincial exams were incorrectly tabulated

Most Read