PARIS — Oxford Hills school district health educators Jeni Cash-Jordan and Erin Flynn presented results of the school district’s most recent youth health survey to school board directors last week. Variations of the survey have been conducted in Maine high schools every other year since the 1990s; the presentation summarized results from Oxford Hills Comprehensive High school’s 2021 questionnaire.

SAD 17’s K-12 Health Department Leader Jeni Jordan explains results of the 2021 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey to school board directors and administrators on March. 6. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat

Data from the survey is used for health education advocacy, support school policy management, grant-writing, and assists guidance, health ed and administrative staff understand health and peer-related concerns of the district’s students.

The survey is open to all students to participate. Prior notice of the survery is provided to parents and guardians to allow families to opt their students out if they wish. Seven hundred and twenty-six students from grades 9-12 completed the survey, with 45% of respondents identifying as male, 53% identifying as female and 2% not answering.

Regarding students’ sense of safety and mental health, survey data showed some positive trends over the previous survey done in 2019. However, time spent in school during the pandemic was limited. Figures for Oxford Hills students were often slightly higher in many areas compared to overall state results.

Ninety percent of OHCHS students indicated that they felt safe while in school, about two percent more than in 2019. Just over 80%, or about 148 students, answered that violence or potential violence has made them want to leave home at times.

Fifteen percent answered that they had been bullied on school grounds during the 12 months before taking the survey and 19.3% said they had been cyber-bullied. In 2019, 25% of respondents said they had been bullied while in school.


Regarding mental health, 37.6% of students responding said they felt sad or hopeless for two weeks or more at a time during the past 12 months and 19.3% reported they had seriously considered attempting suicide.

By comparison, statewide students answered that 35.9% and 18.5% had felt hopeless or sad for two weeks or more, or had considered attempting suicide.

According to the survey, depression and suicidal thoughts are a rising concern for Oxford Hills youth. In 2019, 33.8% reported feeling hopeless or sad, and 16.4% had considered attempting suicide.

In the area of behaviors, only 4.9% of students answered that they had smoked cigarettes at least once a day over a month’s time. Conversely, 34.9% said they have used an electronic vape product, with 20.8% saying they have vaped at least once in the last 30 days.

The numbers for alcohol use have dipped slightly since 2019 but still remain high with 45.7% reporting they have consumed alcohol, and 27.6% answering they had drunk more than five alcoholic drinks in a brief amount of time. Just over half of the students survey said that it would be easy for them to get access to alcohol.

Fewer students reported using marijuana in 2021 compared to 2019; 33.9% answered that they have tried marijuana at least once in 2021 while 37.1% said they had in 2019. But 23.9% said they they had tried it before they were 13-years-old, while in 2019 20.9% had.


Misuse of prescription drugs has remained fairly flat, which 4.9% of 2021 students surveyed answering they had taken a prescription drug without a doctor’s prescription within the last 30 days while 4.6% said they had in 2019.

In 2021, 20.2% of students surveyed answered that they had been offered, sold or given an illegal drug on school property, and 12.4% said they had been drunk or high in school at least once. Nine out of 10 students said their family had clear rules regarding alcohol and drug use; 36.6% said they have lived with an adult who had a problem with alcohol or drugs.

Just over 19% (or 140) of respondents indicated that they were gay, lesbian, bisexual or other. Three point six percent answered that they identified as transgender.

Regarding healthy eating and exercising habits, 13.1% of students said they had eaten at least five servings per day of fruits and vegetable during the preceding week, and 25.5% answered they had drank at least one soda, sport, energy or sugared drink during the previous seven days. Less than half, 46.8% answered that they were physically active for at least 60 minutes for five days during the last week.

More than three-quarters of students felt they had at least one teacher who really cared and supported them when they needed it, and half said they felt like their school enforced rules fairly at least most of the time.

Just under half answered that they felt like they mattered to others in the community; 77.5% said their family provided love and support at least most of the time, and 28.5% reported that they had experienced four or more adverse childhood experiences.

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