MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey Data Released

Natick Students Show Decreases in Major Key Indicators
Posted on 04/24/2017

Natick Public Schools received results from the MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey (MWAHS) with the latest district survey data.  This survey collects self-reported data on high-priority health and risk behaviors, including substance use, bullying, mental health, violence, sexual behavior, and physical activity. It also captures data on emerging and evolving behaviors in the adolescent population

In November 2016, 1,111 students in grades 6 through 8, and 1,278 students in grades 9 through 12 in the Natick Public Schools were surveyed. The survey displays historical trends in key indicators for Natick students and the results show that district efforts to provide resources and intervention have been making a positive an impact.

For middle school youth in Natick, the results show that key indicators are trending down and are especially encouraging in the areas of in alcohol use, bullying victimization and obesity:

  • Current Alcohol Use (past 30 days): 3.9% (down from 6.6% in 2006)

  • Bullying Victim (past 12 months): 22.7% (down from 44.2% in 2008)

  • Overweight or Obese: 17.4% (down from 22.1% in 2010)

For high school youth in Natick, the results continue to show that key indicators are trending down and are especially encouraging in the areas of alcohol and marijuana use, bullying victimization, depression and suicide attempts:

  • Current Alcohol Use (past 30 days): 26.7% (down from 41.5% in 2006)

  • Binge Drinking (past 30 days): 11.3% (down from 24.2% in 2006)

  • Lifetime Marijuana Use: 23.2% (down from 35% in 2010)

  • Current Marijuana Use (past 30 days): 17% (down from 26.5% in 2010)

  • Bullying Victim (past 12 months): 17% (down from 30.9% in 2010)

  • Bullying Victim On School Property (past 12 months): 13% (down from 28.3% in 2010)

  • Depressive Symptoms (past 12 months): 17.6% (down from 21.6% in 2006)

  • Attempted Suicide (past 12 months): 2.7% (down from 5% in 2014)

To address bullying, the district implemented the use of a Bullying Incident Report form, strong curriculum embedded in classes, and teacher training.  Students and parents are encouraged to report bullying incidents directly to school and district administrators. With the expertise of Dr. Tracy Gladstone at Wellesley College, Natick middle and high schools implemented “Hey NHS/KMS/WMS” in-school mental health screening of students. Student responses may trigger follow-up actions by the school and follow up with parents to discuss important issues, provide resources and outline next steps. We believe this program has greatly supported our students who are feeling depressed. Additionally, as part of the new Opioid Bill, students in grades 7 and 9 are screened for drugs and alcohol use and provided with 1:1 education through SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral for Treatment). This is a collaborative effort with Health Services and the Physical Education Department, where all screening is conducted during PE/Fitness classes.

Survey Background

Since 2006, the survey has been administered every other year by the MetroWest Health Foundation to over 40,000 students across 25 communities. This initiative is a part of efforts to enhance the work of schools and communities in preventing students from engaging in risky behavior, while also working to improve student physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

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