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Mental and Physical Well-Being at the Centre of First Youth Snapshot

December 9, 2010
MONCTON (NBHC) – The New Brunswick Health Council (NBHC) has released its first Snapshot focused on young New Brunswickers. Similar to the Population Health Snapshot released in November, the Snapshot seeks to inform everyone about the health status of youth with respect to the area where they live. Youth-specific indicators, presented on one page, are easy to read and understand.
The Snapshot shows that in New Brunswick, only 70% of youth responded as having very good to excellent mental health. This translates to about 23 000 youth having some difficulty. This places our youth amongst the worse, ranking 11th out of 13 when compared to the other provinces and territories.  
Certain indicators are based on choices made by our youth : only one quarter of young New Brunswickers eat their daily requirement of fruit and vegetables;  three out of five youth are not eating breakfast daily; three out of five are not active enough physically and spend too much time doing sedentary activities.  Only half get at least 8 hours of sleep per night.  
There are also disparities between boys and girls when comparing health outcomes: injuries, mental health issues and unhealthy weight (obese or overweight) trend higher for boys than girls.  Boys also display more oppositional behaviours, like being defiant or disrespectful, and they are more likely to be bullied.
On the positive side, when it comes to social environment, our schools and teachers are having an impact on young New Brunswickers. Three quarters reported that their teachers showed a positive attitude towards healthy living, and two thirds noticed healthier food choices being offered at school.

“This shows that as parents, as adults and as members of the community, the choices we make get noticed,” said Stéphane Robichaud, CEO of the NBHC. “It is really up to us to be good role models and to inspire and influence our young people by making healthy life choices, for our physical and mental health.”

The NBHC plans on updating the Snapshot annually, based on the most recent data available; the information is compiled from Statistics Canada and from the New Brunswick Departments of Wellness, Culture and Sport, Education, Social Development, and Service New Brunswick (Vital Statistics Unit). This initiative represents a first collaborative effort; bringing together these departments to share information about our youth could provide an opportunity to innovate at the level of planning and policy to develop an integrated approach.  By leveraging the information across various departments and the Office of the Ombudsman, we can appreciate areas that require attention and monitor variations in youth health over time.
The NBHC is an arms-length organization that measures, monitors and evaluates New Brunswick’s health system through performance measurement and citizen engagement.  
The Youth Snapshot is available online: http://www.nbhc.ca//what-we-do/communities-map_youth.cfm

New Brunswick Health Council: Christine Paré, 506-869-6714, christine.pare@nbhc.ca,

Wellness, Culture and Sport: Jane Matthews-Clark, 506444-4454, jane.matthews-clark@gnb.ca