Grade 11 girls report highest levels of anxiety and depression in CBE student survey


The Calgary Board of Education says new survey results show high school students are reporting that while they feel they have positive relationships in their lives, they're also experience feelings of depression and anxiety — with significantly more female students reporting these feelings than their male counterparts. 

This data was gathered for Grades 4 through 12 by the school board through its Our School survey last fall, with the goal of getting an in-the-moment snapshot of what students are feeling. 

The CBE says it has not compiled data from all schools yet into one report, but results from the survey at Dr. E.P. Scarlett High School are a pretty good indication of what high school students reported at CBE schools across the city. 

"And when you look at the the national norms, the patterns are the same," said superintendent of school improvement, Joanne Pitman.

"And when we talk about resources, whether they be community partnerships, internal resources or pathways to health services, this data will help us be more specific when we are asking for those services or talking about those needs … that's going to be really powerful."

Last month, Dr. E.P. Scarlett High School parent Laura Shutiak attended the school's virtual council meeting when the school's results were shared.

"Parents were very concerned. The starkest numbers were around the kids that identify as being anxious or depressed," she said. "A significant number of kids at our school are feeling that they have these issues. They're self-identified, they're not medical diagnosis, but still."

Scarlett's results show that while 78 per cent of students report having positive relationships, 34 per cent of all students are experiencing anxiety and 38 per cent of all students are experiencing feelings of depression. 

"The survey showed us that one year of this chaos pandemic is having a dramatic impact on our kids. They're not feeling connected," said Shutiak.

Grade 11 girls reported these feelings at a significantly higher rate than their peers — with 52 per cent reporting feeling anxious and 60 per cent reporting feelings of depression, compared with roughly 23 per cent of Grade 11 boys reporting the same feelings.

 Female students in all grades reported these feelings at a higher rate than their male counterparts.

"We were all a little bit surprised, to be honest," said principal Shari Goodfellow. 

"Fifty-five per cent of our honours with distinction students are female, most of the leaders in our school and on my advisory are female, so we see them as very successful."