New research has revealed that young people continue to report feelings of depression, anxiety, fear and concern about their mental health despite the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and the majority of students returning to classrooms across the country
The nationally representative research conducted by YouthInsight, the research arm of Student Edge, in May 2020 is the third in a series of monthly surveys monitoring young people’s understanding and sentiment towards the COVID-19 situation in Australia.
It found concern about COVID-19 by young Australians was starting to ease however remains high at 70 percent. In addition, 40 percent of young people are concerned about their mental health.
According to the research the top three issues causing concern for young people are the health of their family (64 percent), their studies (61 percent), and the economy (55 percent).
These top issues have remained consistent over the three surveys. Positively, the number of young people who indicated they felt happy rose from 34 percent in March 2020 to 42 percent in May 2020, which could prove to be a protective factor against the negative mental health impacts of COVID-19.
Simon Miraudo, Head of Membership at Student Edge, said that the results of the survey show that young people are still feeling the impacts of COVID-19 on their mental health.
“It’s heartening to see a drop in negative feelings and an increase in positive feelings since the peak period of isolation. However the majority of young people are still feeling depressed (58 percent), anxious (57 percent), and afraid (53 percent) as a result of the pandemic.
“As restrictions continue to ease, there remain plenty of unknowns on the horizon for young people such as job security, financial and study stress.”
Ashley de Silva, CEO of ReachOut, said that ReachOut has been providing digital mental health support for young people and that levels of distress remain high despite the easing of restrictions.
“In the first five weeks of lockdown, we saw a 50 percent increase in demand for ReachOut’s digital mental health services, year on year. While this initial surge in demand has decreased, there is still a 40 percent increase in people seeking support, year on year. This tells us that young people are in distress and need support right now.
“Through ReachOut’s research with groups of young people and our online peer support forum we are seeing young people’s concerns shifting from fear and anxiety to uncertainty about the future and the impacts on things like employment and education – this is mirrored in the Student Edge research.
“It is important we respond to young people's changing mental health needs as the impacts of the pandemic continue to play out. ReachOut continues to provide COVID-19 specific support for young people and parents and recently released new content to give young people strategies to help them deal with constant change.
“We encourage young people to take a proactive approach when it comes to their mental health and to seek additional support if they need it. For parents and carers, it’s important to find time for regular check-ins with your young person, particularly if you notice things don’t seem quite right.”
For more information about ReachOut’s COVID-19 mental health support visit ReachOut.com/COVID-19.