“I’ll be very honest with you, these stats really scare me. They’re quite concerning in terms of mental health within our corridor.”
That’s one of the messages Whistler Community Services Society (WCSS) executive director Jackie Dickinson imparted on Whistler’s mayor and council Tuesday, Aug. 2., when she appeared in front of the Committee of the Whole to present the results of Communities That Care (CTC) Whistler’s 2021 Prevention Needs Assessment Survey.
The anonymous survey of Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton public school students in Grades 6 through 12 was conducted in School District 48 classrooms and at Lil’wat Nation’s Xet’ólacw Community School in May 2021, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The results of the Whistler survey, which polled a total of 568 local students, were released in a report last week.
Among the most concerning findings reported in the survey, said Dickinson, were high levels of mental health issues and stress among Whistler’s youth. When the survey was issued, 100 of the 568 respondents—roughly roughly 18 per cent of those polled—said they had seriously considered attempting suicide within the last 12 months. This was most evident in Grades 6 to 9, Dickinson explained, with “many” students reporting they had even made a plan about how they were going to do it.
“When we talk about mental health, when we talk about well-being, we have to sit in the uncomfortability of these kinds of conversations,” she said.
However, WCSS’ executive director still managed to find a ray of hope in such a dark cloud.
“It’s incredibly brave that the students came forward in this survey and they’re telling us something, and now we strongly have a responsibility to do something with that information,” Dickinson told councillors.