By Robert Cribb, Staff Reporter
Declan Keogh, Investigative Journalism Bureau

One in seven Ontario students in grades 7 to 12 say they harmed themselves on purpose in the past year.

One in six had serious thoughts of suicide.

One in three say that there was a time in the past year when they wanted to talk to someone about a mental health problem but did not know where to turn.

The numbers are worse than before. Data obtained exclusively from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) show the alarm over youth in distress is getting louder. And COVID-19 is intensifying the problem.

“(Young people) are feeling nervous, feeling hopeless, feeling restless ... feeling nothing can cheer (them) up,” said Hayley Hamilton, a senior scientist at CAMH who co-authored a new study of responses from more than 14,000 students provincewide.

The rising distress captured in the survey, done before COVID-19, has likely only worsened during the pandemic.

“With (COVID-19) we really have this cascading effect,” said CAMH senior scientist Joanna Henderson, one of the survey’s co-authors.

Today, the Star and the Investigative Journalism Bureau (IJB) launch Generation Distress — stories that will reveal spiking demand for youth mental health services, the pressure on educational institutions and governments, and innovative solutions emerging to address the crisis.

This generation of children and young people is making unprecedented calls for help amid rising anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation and self-harm that is undermining their academics, personal relationships and careers. In growing numbers, they are taking their lives.

Read the full story in the Toronto Star