Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Science


Epidemiology and Biostatistics


MacDougall, Arlene

2nd Supervisor

Stranges, Saverio


Introduction:Transitional aged youth (TAY; ages 15-24) is a vulnerable age group that face several life changes which contribute to many forms of distress in their lives.

Objective:To assess the impact social connectedness has on self-perceived mental health in Canadian TAY.

Methods:The dataset provided by the Canadian Community Health Survey 2016 cycle was used. Listwise deletion was used to handle missing data. The final sample size for the study was 5,378 youth between the ages of 15-24. Linear and ordinal logistic regressions were conducted for the statistical analysis of the dataset.

Results:With every point decrease in social connectedness, Canadian TAY have 12% more odds to rate their self-perceived mental health as good or fair/poor in comparison to excellent/very good.

Conclusion:A better understanding of social connectedness and its association with mental health in TAY may allow for implementation of programs and policies that can address lack of social connectedness across the country.

Summary for Lay Audience

Individuals in their youth, specifically between the ages of 15 and 24, are in a crucial period for developing poor mental health. Transitional aged youth (ages 15-24) are facing high volumes of stress associated with transitioning to adulthood, such as societal demands, shift from dependence to independence, and sculpting of personal identities associated with occupation, sexuality, and relationships. An individual’s perception of their belongingness to their community and their value in society have implications to their self-esteem, anxiety, mood and emotional well-being. Social connectedness, which refers to the social connection we have with others and our interpersonal closeness to the social world that consists of family, friends, peers, strangers, community, and society, can impact one’s mental health. There is insufficient research that has explored the association between social connectedness and mental health in youth. This study will use the data from the 2016 cycle of the Canadian Community Health survey to examine how social connectedness can impact the way youth perceive their mental health. We found that as social connectedness gets worse in transitional aged youth, they are more likely to perceive their mental health to be poor. Our findings also suggest that socio-demographic factors such as sex, sexual orientation, household income, and whether an individual lives in a rural or urban setting can impact their mental health. Additionally, having a mood and/or anxiety disorder, and not being physically healthy are other contributors to poor mental health. In can be concluded from the findings that promoting social connectedness with transitional aged youth can facilitate better mental health. Models of engagement of combining youth decision-making, caring community members, and opportunities to make community contributions ought to be implemented as such models are associated with long lasting positive effects of mental health. A focus on youth mental health is crucial because their health now predicts their prosperity in the future.