Prince’s Trust warns of downward spiral of anxiety and lack of confidence affecting young people

The Prince’s Trust has warned about the state of young people’s mental wellbeing, including low levels of confidence about the future and high levels of anxiety and feelings of burnout. It adds to a growing body of evidence about the lasting impact of the Covid pandemic on young people’s mental health. This is one of many areas in which the pandemic has exposed or exacerbated pre-existing problems. Life-Based Learning (LBL) aims to prepare young people for the challenges of modern life. One of the most important challenges is the ability to manage our mental health.

The Youth Index, carried out by YouGov, surveyed more than 2,000 people aged 16 to 25 across the UK. It is an annual report that measures young people’s happiness and confidence levels across a range of areas, from their physical and mental health to working life.

This year’s findings include the following:

  • Young people’s overall happiness and confidence are at their lowest in the thirteen-year history of the survey
  • Young people facing disadvantage and/or unemployment report consistently worse overall wellbeing, with 25% reporting that they always feel anxious (compared to 16% overall)
  • Almost half (48%) say that the pandemic has left them feeling ‘burnt out’

The pandemic will be a scar for life on young people in the UK, unless we act now. This alarming downward spiral of anxiety, stress and lack of confidence for the future will impact young people today and in future generations, while widening the gap for the most disadvantaged. With the right support from businesses, government and charities we can turn this around and ensure young people have the right skills and confidence to feel positive about their future work, and about their life overall.

Jonathan Townsend, UK Chief Executive, The Prince’s Trust

As the mental health charity Young Minds says, young people’s mental health and wellbeing has never been so important:

  • One in six children aged five to 16 were identified as having a probable mental health problem in 2021, a huge increase from one in nine in 2017
  • The number of A&E attendances by young people aged 18 or under with a recorded diagnosis of a psychiatric condition more than tripled in less than a decade
  • In 2018–19, 24% of 17-year-olds reported having self-harmed in the previous year, and 7% reported having self-harmed with suicidal intent at some point in their lives
  • Suicide was the leading cause of death for males and females aged between five and 34 in 2019

Life-Based Learning (LBL) aims to prepare young people for the challenges of modern life. One of the most important challenges is the ability to manage our mental health. We need well-funded support systems — turning the fine words about taking mental health as seriously as we do physical health — into something real and accessible. But we need to be proactive as well as reactive. There are many drivers of mental ill-health, of course, and no quick fix. But knowing more about mental health and wellbeing has to be part of any long-term solution.

Children need to be learning from an early age about their emotions and how to manage them, much improving their chances of growing up happy, comfortable in themselves and emotionally resilient. They also need to have free and regular access to activities that promote good mental health. Our blogs regularly highlight the benefits to children’s mental health and wellbeing of regular physical exercise, outdoor and nature-based experiences and participation in activities that involve them in positive change.

More About Mental Health

The image at the head of this article is from the Prince’s Trust website.

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