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TDSB report finds mental health needs attention

TORONTO – A report from Canada’s largest school board suggests a strong need to better support students’ social and emotional well-being.

The wide-ranging report from the Toronto District School Board found 73 per cent of students surveyed between Grades 9 and 12 were worried about their future, while 59 per cent of respondents in Grades 7 and 8 said the same.

The 2011 survey also found 72 per cent of students polled between Grade 9 and 12, and 63 per cent of students surveyed in Grades 7 and 8 said they felt nervous or anxious often or some of the time.

Meanwhile, 66 per cent of students surveyed between Grades 9 and 12 said they were under a lot of stress often or sometimes, while that figure stood at 40 per cent for respondents in Grades 7 and 8.

A spokeswoman for the board says the report’s findings will be used to craft a mental health strategy.

Shari Schwartz-Maltz said the survey, which includes data on individual schools that has already been provided to principals, will also drive school-specific programming.

This was the first time the board surveyed its students on mental health issues.

“What our research showed us is that there’s certainly a gap in the area of mental health and we need to focus more of our resources in the area of mental health,” said Schwartz-Maltz.

“These surveys drive programming in our schools, they give us a snapshot of the way our kids are feeling and they drive what we do.”

When assessing physical symptoms related to social and emotional issues, the report found 57 per cent of respondents between Grades 9 and 12 were losing sleep because of worries, while that was the case for 38 per cent of students surveyed in Grades 7 and 8.

Meanwhile, 70 per cent of students surveyed between Grades 9 and 12 were worried about their school work, while 64 per cent of respondents in Grades 7 and 8 said the same.

The TDSB said it covers nearly 600 schools and serves more than 250,000 students each year.

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