A new survey revealing high levels of anxiety among our young people amounts to an important heads-up not only for parents, but for governments and all those charged with helping them prepare for their future. After all, to the extent their fears or apprehensions hamper them, they’ll be unable to achieve their potential.
According to a recent story by The Canadian Press, a survey conducted by the Toronto District School Board identifying anxiety as a prevailing problem among students has prompted the board to commit to a mental health strategy to address it. Board staff were “quite shocked” by the results of the survey, the story reports, and considers it a “wake-up call.”
Growing up has never been easy, but it seems for this generation, there are heightened fears about many things. The survey asked almost 103,000 students in the Toronto School District about a wide range of issues and found that 73 per cent of students between grades 9-12 were worried about their future, while 59 per cent of grades 7-8 respondents shared the same fears. It also found that of the students surveyed, 72 per cent of grades 9-12 students and 63 per cent of grades 7-8 students felt nervous or anxious often or some of the time.
While the survey dealt directly with Toronto’s young people, its message has relevance to all Canadians. Maria Yau, research co-ordinator for the board, is reported in the story as saying these experiences are shared by youth in general, and that this underlines the need for more mental, social and emotional health support systems.
It seems Canadians have two options here. We could dispute or dismiss the findings of the survey or we could consider the results and determine for ourselves how they relate to the youth in our communities. We suggest the second. There’s no point in asserting that what happens in Toronto doesn’t happen in smaller communities. The social media has broken down many geographical community barriers. The values and fears and experiences of youth in Toronto or Montreal are often shared by youth everywhere. Parents, educators and governments everywhere need to be aware of this and be prepared to respond.
At the end of the day, our kids are still kids, and like generations before them, they’re counting on the adults in their lives to help them chart a future whereby they can live happy, productive lives. When a survey emerges that shows kids are experiencing obstacles to that goal, we have a responsibility to give them the tools they need to cope with those obstacles.
A united voice
Island fishermen and their counterparts in Atlantic Canada will continue to have their challenges, but they appear willing to work together in addressing them. That’s a hopeful sign.
Fishers from Atlantic Canada and Quebec met earlier this month in Halifax at what was an historic meeting. Delegates representing more than 10,000 owner-operator fishers discussed the mutual concerns of making a living while coping with everything from climate change, trends in marketing and the lack of youth interest in the industry. According to Pinette fisherman Mike McGeoghegan, the group will likely continue to meet to give a united voice on national issues.
That’s encouraging. Like farmers, fishers are also dealing with the fact that most non-fishing Canadians have little understanding of their industry. By working together on mutual concerns and communicating them, they have a better chance of building awareness and appreciation of those concerns.