Pandemic affects young people’s mental health

Pandemic affects young people’s mental health

A new joint report by Mission Australia and Black Dog Institute reveals that substantially more young people in Australia are experiencing psychological distress than in 2012.

The report also reveals that young people had higher odds of experiencing psychological distress if they identified as female, non-binary, living with disability, or as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.  

One in four young people in 2020 said they are experiencing mental health challenges; a significant increase since 2012, when one in five young people were facing similar concerns.

The Psychological distress in young people in Australia fifth biennial youth mental health report: 2012-2020 explores Mission Australia’s Youth Survey findings – and is co-authored with Black Dog Institute experts – to better understand the prevalence and experiences of psychological distress faced by 15 to 19 year-olds in Australia.

The report explores how young people with mental health challenges think, feel and act by looking at the responses of 25,103 young people who answered the question measuring psychological distress in 2020.

It also looks at their help-seeking behaviours – pinpointing the important role that friends, parents, services, schools and the internet and apps play as sources of support for young people who are experiencing psychological distress.

Mission Australia and the Black Dog Institute are calling for more action from governments, schools, families, businesses, and others to prioritise tailored, timely and accessible mental health support, to reduce the prevalence of mental ill-health among young people in Australia.

James Toomey is Mission Australia’s CEO.

“With the prevalence of psychological distress experienced by young people increasing, this report warrants attention and swift action,” he said.

“Undoubtedly, COVID-19 has had a detrimental impact on many young people’s mental health. Youth mental health is an important national challenge that must be addressed.

“Importantly, young people must be central to the co-design, development and adaptation of youth mental health services and tools – both at school and within their communities.”

Professor Jennie Hudson is the Black Dog Institute’s Director of Research.

“Global research tells us that over 75 percent of mental health issues develop before the age of 25, and these can have lifelong consequences,” she said.

“We are still in the dark as to why mental health and suicide risk has increased in our current cohort of youth, a finding that is not unique to Australia.”

“Early intervention in adolescence and childhood is imperative to help reduce these figures.”


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