A report on youth mental health, released this week by the New Brunswick Health Council, has found young people in the province aren't getting enough sleep.

Students in Grade 6 through Grade 12 from across New Brunswick were surveyed in the 2012-2013 school year and CEO Stéphane Robichaud said he wasn't surprised by the results, which show only 29 per cent of youth get the recommended eight hours or more of sleep every night.

"I have two sons myself and this has always been a contentious issue when it comes to going to bed," he said.

"It appears the culprit is technology so it goes to show that they may be spending far more time on these gadgets than we might expect."

The report — Protective factors as a path to better youth mental health — found students in Dalhousie had the highest rate of sleeping eight or more hours, at 54 per cent, while students in Neguac had the lowest at 15 per cent.

Stephane Robichaud

New Brunswick Health Council CEO Stephane Robichaud says increasing the amount of sleep youth get is one of four areas of focus to improve mental health. (CBC)

Robichaud hopes the results of the survey, which the health council manages for the Departments of Health and Education, will serve as a starting point to improve access to resources for those struggling with mental health issues.

"But, like we have observed about other areas of our health system, greater coordination is required, along with clear and common performance targets."

Resilience key

The study looked at the ability of teens to bounce back when facing problems and identified ways to make youth more resilient.

"There are risk factors that can certainly diminish youth's ability to deal with [adversity] but on the flip side there are protective factors that we can focus on," Robichaud said.

The survey attempted to measure resilience by asking students how much they identified with 12 statements using a 5-point scale that ranged from "1-does not describe me at all" to "5-describes me a lot."

There were three statements with low scores among students, meaning they did not agree with them.

  • I know where to go in my community to get help.
  • I feel I belong at my school.
  • I am treated fairly in the community.

Only 26 per cent of students answered "5-describes me a lot" to "I know where to go in my community to get help," while 31 per cent felt they belonged at school and 37 per cent felt they were treated fairly in their community.

"When you're looking at these numbers ... it does help identify an area where communities can put some efforts in place in order to ensure that it's easier for youth to know where to go if they find themselves in these types of situations," Robichaud said.

The results show that girls scored higher that boys on the survey when it came to resilience, francophone students scored higher than anglophones, and aboriginal students scored the lowest.