Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey: Ontario Students and Their Mental Health Needs

On November 10th, 2014, CAMH organized a webinar to review the highlights of the results from the 2013 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS). The OSDUHS was started in 1977, making it Canada’s longest ongoing student survey. It also happens to be the longest in the world! The survey is conducted every two years, and looks at mental health, drug use, physical health, bullying and other risky behaviours among students who are in grades 7-12.

The webinar discussed some alarming results about Ontario students’ emotional and mental health indicators. For example, over 14% of students self-rated their own mental health as only “fair” or “poor”, as opposed to “good”, “very good”, or “excellent”. Females were significantly more likely than males to rate their mental health as “fair” or “poor”. Further, over one quarter reported a moderate to high level of psychological distress during the past month. Again, females were twice as likely to report psychological distress than males. Even more alarmingly, over 13% of students said they had seriously contemplated suicide over the past one year, while 3.5% actually attempted it within the past year. Once again, female students were twice as likely to contemplate and attempt suicide than their male counterparts. The survey results consistently showed that data for female students was very different than for males, indicating a potential need to have gender-specific programs for teens.

What does this mean for Ontario’s youth mental health? Although the majority of Ontario students report good (or better) mental health, this data clearly shows that there are gaps that need to be filled. Increased mental health services aimed at teenagers in particular may be part of the solution. For example, PAD’s Strengthening Families for Parents and Youth (SFPY) program has been proven to produce better mental health outcomes in teens. Learn more about the SFPY program at sfpy-pad.org, or check it out on Twitter at @_sfpy.

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Preventing Teen Drug Use: Why Parental Affection Matters

A study by the European Institute of Studies on Prevention (IREFREA) looked at how parenting styles influence teenager drug use (alcohol, tobacco, cannabis) .  After interviews with 7,718 youth between the ages of 11-19, it turns out that showing affection, emotions and understanding are very important factors in keeping teenagers from using drugs.

The study looked at four types of parenting styles: authoritative (warm yet strict), authoritarian (strict and not warm), neglectful (neither warm nor strict), and indulgent (warm but not strict). An authoritative model of parenting is where parents “give clear rules and affectionately and flexibly reason with the children when asking for their compliance”, whereas parents in an authoritarian model are less affectionate. Parents in the indulgent and neglectful models have a low level of control over their children. The indulgent model, where parents openly show affection and understanding, was previously seen to be permissive and not as effective, but this new study shows that even an indulgent parenting style can prevent drug use.

In the past, it has been found that “adolescents from authoritative households use less illegal drugs, are more resilient, achieve better academic performance, have better psychological competence, and better adaptive strategies, and are less involved in the broad-spectrum of behaviour problems”. In indulgent and authoritative households, an environment of dialogue, acceptance, and affection also encourages increased self-confidence. This likely leads to increased youth resiliency and prevention of drug use. Keeping that in mind, PAD’s Strengthening Families for Parents and Youth (SFPY) teaches families how to build the skills that will create understanding and affectionate relationships. Check out our SFPY website for more info!

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2014 Annual General Meeting of Parent Action on Drugs

2014 Annual General Meeting of Parent Action on Drugs

Monday, September 29, 2014

6:30 p.m. for Supper / 7:00 p.m. Program

North York Memorial Community Hall, Burgundy Room, 5110 Yonge Street, Toronto


Introduction of PAD’s Strategic Plan: Leading the Way to Stronger Youth and Families – 2015 – 2019

 Presentation: Adding Value – PAD’s Role in HC Link

Business meeting to follow

Guests Welcome      

RSVP by September 22nd, 2014: call (416) 395-4970 or email pad@parentactionondrugs.org 

Directions to the North York Memorial Hall – North York Memorial Community Hall is located at 5110 Yonge St., just steps away from North York Civic Centre and North York Centre subway station on the Yonge line.  It’s on the lower level below the Central Branch of the Toronto Public Library.   Parking is available off of Beecroft Rd.   http://goo.gl/maps/BnfNH

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Building Community Capacity for SFPY in English and French!

combined logo PAD is very excited to be working on three projects to introduce, train and support multiple implementations of SFPY across the province – in both English and French.


Drug Strategy Communities Initiation Fund (Health Canada)

We are well into the implementation phase of our Health Canada funded project:  Building Community Capacity to Increase Youth Resiliency through a Strengthening Families Model.  In this project we are working with 9 regional partners across Ontario in Kenora, Pembroke, Waterloo and county,Dunnville, Sarnia, Kingston, Peterborough and Toronto.


Canada-Ontario Agreement on French Language Services (Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care)

Working in conjunction with Health Nexus, we have translated the SFPY curriculum into French and are working with and advisory committee to pilot SFPY within diverse Francophone communities in Ontario.  Community agencies in Nipissing and Sudbury are piloting the curriculum in the coming year.


Toronto Urban Health Fund

Working directly with La Passerelle in Toronto, we will be implementing SFPY with newcomer Francophone families in Toronto and considering ways to implement SFPY with other diverse newcomer families as the next step.

We are developing a training package, an implementation tool kit, a coordinator handbook and many more support materials for these cycles.

Our team includes Andrea Zeelie-Varga, Sylvie Boulet, Joanne Brown, Diane Buhler, Estelle Duchon,  Kyley Alderson and Kathy Baillie.  Together we are committed to ensuring we provide our community partners with the utmost support needed to build the bases for sustaining this amazing program across Ontario.

As always, we would like to recognized Dr. Karol Kumpfer who developed the Strengthening Families Program and built the evidence base for this program through extended research and global application.

For additional information and to keep up-to-date on our project developments, go to:  pad-sfpy.org or follow along on Twitter wish #SFPY.

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Overwhelming LCBO customer support for PAD

Donation boxes for Parent Action on Drugs were displayed at LCBO checkout counters for the month of April. Customers donated $12,019.43 to support PAD!

Donated funds aid the development and delivery of important resources that focus on the information that teens need to keep themselves – and their friends – safe and let parents know how they can be prepared to deal with the issue of alcohol and teens.

We appreciate all support we receive through the LCBO Coin Box Donation program!

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Strengthening Families – Training in Toronto!

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and Parent Action on Drugs (PAD) will be hosting a one day combination training  on Strengthening Families for the Future and Strengthening Families for Parents and Youth. This event is for agencies and organizations who are planning to deliver either program and would like their staff trained as facilitators.

Strengthening Families for the Future is a 14 week health promotion program for parents and/or caregivers and their children age 7-11. Strengthening Families for Parents and Youth is 9 weeks long and is for families with children age 12 -16. Both programs have demonstrated many positive impacts on family functioning, including a reduction in parent/child conflict and improvements in the areas of communication, problem solving and anger management.

The training will take place on Monday, August 11 and be held at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 33 Russell Street (near College and Spadina), in room 4100.  The training is free of charge and includes morning and afternoon refreshments and lunch. This is an all-day event with registration beginning at 9:00 a.m. Please plan to arrive on time.

To register for the training , please go to the following link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/LTJDDG9  if you experience problems in accessing the link, please contact Barbara Steep at Barbara.Steep@camh.ca  or 416 535-8501 ext.  34553 to register directly.


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New resources for parents and teens to help plan for a safe prom

It’s prom season! Parent Action on Drugs has updated the Parent Action Pack website with a new set of prom-related resources  to ensure all teens enjoy a safe and happy prom night!

  • Party Safely – a  reference booklet for teens with strategies for safe party outcomes.
  • More than a Hangover – a presentation slideshow with information about alcohol consumption and alcohol poisoning.



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Support PAD this April at the LCBO!

LCBOApril is the month to PAD at any of the LCBO stores throughout Ontario. Now until April 26 look for our donation boxes on the counters of all 630 LCBO stores and make your donation!
Donations will help PAD develop and distribute additional resources for parents and youth. We appreciate all support we receive through the LCBO Coin Box Donation program!




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PAD welcomes two new peer education associates

PAD is please to welcome Kerri Kightley and Suzanne Witt-Foley to our peer education team! Kerri will be working in the Peterborough and eastern Ontario area, and Suzanne will be working in the Muskoka district.

  • Kerri Kightley is a consultant in Peterborough Ontario. Kerri manages of the Peterborough Drug Strategy, a collaborative initiative based on the four pillars of Prevention, Harm Reduction, Treatment and Enforcement striving to reduce the harm associated with substance use. Kerri is also coordinating the development of opiate overdose prevention initiatives across the region of Durham, Northumberland, Peterborough,  Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton. Much of Kerri’s work focuses has building networks of community stakeholders to build capacity for collaborative work within the social services sector.
  • Suzanne Witt-Foley is a consultant in Bracebridge. She is currently working with Addiction Outreach Muskoka Parry Sound and coordinating Strengthening Families is the Muskoka region. Previously. Suzanne was employed as a community consultant for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) for over 16 years and has worked in a variety of other settings including a community health centre, public health and health planning across Ontario, and Eastern Canada.

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The Latest Stats & Facts: Spring Round Up (February + March + April 2014)

Each month PAD compiles the latest news, evidence and resources about parenting, teen development, and alcohol and other drugs into a single blog post.  Have something to add? Please let us know!

  • A new study from Northwestern Medicine and Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School finds young adults who recreationally use marijuana displayed significant abnormalities in brain regions that are important in emotion and motivation.  This is the first study to show casual use of marijuana is related to major brain changes. It showed the degree of brain abnormalities is directly related to the number of joints a person smoked per week. However, there is discussion around the study’s definition of “causal recreational use” as some scientists believe this level to be higher than other classifications of casual use. It is important to note that cannabis use is increasingly studied.
  • A news release  from group of concerned parents highlights that retailers sell tobacco to underage youth. The release quotes a provincial study by the University of Guelph and a survey from Ipsos Reid survey.  Both indicate that that convenience stores did not ask for appropriate identification for tobacco sales. A related news article focuses on Toronto. 
  • A news article looks at a new study conducted by University of Waterloo and Dalhousie University amongst highschool students in Atlantic Canada. The study found links between “intense use” of energy drinks and depression as well as  substance use. Results also found that younger teens were more likely to consume energy drinks than older teens. The news article also looks at the marketing  of risk-taking  and why energy drinks may appeal to youth.
  • A website article A Parent’s Guide to Talking to Teens About Drugs and Alcohol  encourages parents to talk openly with their teens about drinking and drug use.  The article stresses that although the goal of the ongoing conversation is to encourage teens to not use drugs or drink, parents should be realistic about use. Parent should keeps the links of communication open and let their teens know that their safety is of the utmost importance. The article includes a number of links to other websites and resources.
  • A news article, titled The case for why teens should wait to smoke up  looks at the different messages youth are receiving in the media and in society around marijuana use. The article looks at the different in risks for adults and youth and importance of delaying initiation due to emerging research.


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